The Eleventh Hour

Welcome to the Bat Cave. You'll fit right in.

True to form, it was indeed a cave. And there was the S&M poster boy for leather goods to boot. "Holy hideouts, Wombat-Man!" Nolan exclaimed, as the child arrived inside of the bunker where it appeared that the remnants of Gamma Team had taken roost. Well, Gamma Team plus L'mek and Torrik… Nolan to boot? He supposed that made it the Gamma and Bravo SuperFriends Hour now. Just the thing to strike fear in the hearts of… bad guys if they were fighting bad guys who felt things like fear. Zombies were kinda numb. Probably made them good financial analysts…

Dropping the spider-pev teddy bear and the rest of the crap that he was toting, Nolan pulled the mask off his face as he looked over the group. Munro wasn't looking all that hot, which considering the fact that Nolan had seen her with a blade of glass impaled through her chest was saying alot. The token Romulan was passed on the floor and Nils just seemed closed off in his usual stoic fashion. The man should have traded his ridged nose for a set of pointed ears. Probably would have been happier as a Vulcan where he could pretend those bothersome feelings didn't exist. He'd passed Harry and T'Shaini on his way inside, both of them just looked as though they'd seen ghosts of one kind or another. T'Shaini hid it better than her human counterpart, but Nolan had enough experience with Vulcans to be versed in how to read them.

That left Wombat-Man. On the one hand, Costala getting himself into a completely inexplicable situation was far from out of the ordinary. He'd been a one-man demolitions test on board the Sentinel during Lien's last command. On the other… there just had to be a story behind that outfit. Javier didn't strike him as the 'dress up' type. Craning his head back as he stared out at the wildly outfitted man, Nolan casually said, "I'm acting my age… what's your excuse?"

Probably not the most pressing concern when trapped on a planet packed full of undead, people-eating, animated corpses. But still, inquiring minds wanted to know..

Originally posted by Nolan Marc

T'Shaini wandered up the passageway in search of Harry. Nolan's arrival had been unexpected, but welcome, at least one more member of the away teams had been accounted for. Seeing as he had both Jillian and Nils who he was far better acquainted with then he was herself, T'Shaini felt driven to ascertain Harry's whereabouts. Stepping into the condemned office that was the front for their hideaway she spied, in the stillness, an unmistakable silhouette, leaning near the boarded up windows. His face, streaked with thin beams of light filtering through the boarded up windows, was taut with anger. "Harry…" She began quietly. "I am sorry to disturb you, I was concerned."

"Sun's coming up," he said, not turning towards the counselor, not wanting to spill his fury where it wasn't deserved, "and no sign of Khev." He felt the frisson of worry dance across the slow burn he'd been nursing the last hour or so. Taking a careful breath he finally looked back, saw the hint of early mourning in T'Shaini's eyes. "He's.. he's not… I mean, how is…?" Harry faltered over the sudden and improbable role reversal but damn it, she looked so lost. "Tell me," he finally tried, hoping she'd understand.

"They are searching for a cure." She heard herself say automatically. Then she let out a shuddering breath, wrapping her arms around herself as if to hold in the fear. "I do not know, he will not…he seems to be avoiding me."

"Not avoiding," Harry contradicted, holding her eyes in the growing light, "protecting. He's… he's afraid he might hurt you." Even as he said the words he felt again a skating sensation of unease but, "So he keeps a distance," he turned his eyes back down to the broken frame he'd been holding, turning it over in his hands, then over again. "I'd do the same thing, if it were me," he admitted.

Acknowledging the truth of his words but unable to continue in that vein she directed her attention to Harry's hands. "What is that you are holding?"

Harry accepted the deflection and offered Wendy the picture. "A life or, a piece of a life, anyway… before someone stole it." His voice roughened as the barely-tempered fury began to rise once more.

She took the picture from his hands and rubbing her thumb over it clear away the grime of the recent holocaust revealed…a family. "Oh." It had been so easy to divorce herself from the original victims of the virus. The people of this planet. In the immediate concern of staying alive she had disregarded the tragedy that had precipitated this situation. "I wonder what became…"

"It doesn't matter," Finn spat the words, striding across the decrepit office, away from that picture and all it represented, "it doesn't matter which way their lives were stolen, the point is that they were. And worse," he pounded the nearest desk with his fist, "worse is that after they died, someone is still using them. Someone… or someones… made this happen deliberately and now all that's left of that family, or," he kicked a stained shoe across the floor "the woman who sat right here and favored red shoes with stupid heels or the guy who had the corner desk and kept a bottle under his paperwork… are rotting, death-dealing puppets." He forced himself to stop, take shallower breaths, hold down the anger… until he could use it.

A feeling of unease crept over T'Shaini. "Where are they all? It has been hours since a sighting…"

"I don't know," Finn said, returning to his earlier post, where he had a good view of the ruined street, "I don't know," he repeated himself as he scanned the area for signs of life… or undeath.

"Perhaps we should return to the others and see if perhaps Nils or Nolan can find a way to track their movements, intercept communications or…" She waved her hands ineffectually. "something."

"You go ahead," he adjusted his posture to the least uncomfortable position available, nodded towards the empty street, "I'll stay here - keep watch."

Logic, as always, winning out, she understood the wisdom of his standing sentry. As she disappeared back into the passageway she voiced a quiet 'thank you', then went back to join the others…and search for answers.

Originally Posted on 28 November 2007 by Javier Costala, Harry Finn, and T'shaini

"I can't find anything. There's nothing on this data card!" Javier told Dr. Munro harshly. "There's no tritripta-oxy-sodium-whateverthehell…I don't see it. I can't see it!" He yelled in frustration as Javier backed away from the monitor giving the antiquated machine a side-kick. This information is useless, completely useless. Javier thought as he backed away from the old computer.

Frustration mixed with hunger and fear had put the engineer on edge. He was slowly becoming a creature and every wasted minute brought him one step closer to evolving to a state from which there probably was no return. The Javier everyone knew would have soldiered his way through, spent time looking for a cure, devised a plan or sprung an unorthodox move on the group to help them.

But he wasn't Javier anymore.

He felt the changes taking place. Pain had shot through his body more than once while they were in the cave and it had taken every bit of restraint not to yell, instead he had clenched his shaking fists and continued to search for some hint of a cure.

The engineer couldn't look at doctor L'mek. The doctor was still sleeping on the floor, he had thought about moving him to a better resting spot. But when his eyes fell on the sleeping Romulan, Costala found himself biting his lip in anticipation of thinking how tasty biting into that succulent greenish flesh would be. The wave of revulsion that followed the hunger would leave him coughing and heaving. Just don't look at him. Just ignore him. he told himself over and over as the hunger gnawed at his insides.

Then there was the lighting in the bunker. After an hour or so he had noticed that it was growing darker. He had attributed this to the weakening of the systems that lit the area but it was progressively growing darker and none of the others had seemed to notice the changes. As the hour approached dawn Javier found that the lighting became inexplicably worse. But as the light became dimmer his sense of smell became more poignant. He could smell the engine fluids in the vehicle, the smell of Nils brand of soap, the particular smell that replicated clothing emitted, the smell of gunpowder, and when she lingered nearby, the smell of T'Shaini's sweat and musky Vulcan body chemistry. That aroused a different kind of hunger, well two kinds of hunger actually, and both were appealing in their own odd way.

Turning away from the rest of them, after his outburst Javier searched the car for the suit's helmet. Picking it up off the floorboard he paused before putting it on. He was, in effect, cutting himself off from the others when he wore it. Good. They won't see my facial expressions then. At that point some weird looking kid strolled in and dropped a bunch of crap on the floor before checking the place out and strolling over to him.

"I'm acting my age…what's your excuse?" the kid asked.

Javier just stared at him then replied, "Oh shut up."

He put the helmet on and walked out of the bunker. Kids are.. he started to say to himself, but it brought back memories of Lia. Memories he didn't want to deal with at that moment. He concentrated on a perimeter check of the bunker, something that would take his mind off of everything else and get him away from the others, away from what he was beginning to think of as food.

Originally posted on 29 November 2007 by Javier Costala

Pev was tired of running, sick of locked doors, and hungry. As darkness had settled, the S'ti'ach had made his way down the side streets of Halcyon, continuing to evade zombies with speed and cunning, but had yet to find an unlocked door. Even the windows in this part of the city were gated with metal, not that the Hawking's XO had seen anything in the displays that he thought could do him good. He had taken note of certain fashion trends, however, and thought that the orange paisley off-the-shoulder pseudo-silk kimono with the deep green sash was particularly striking. Still, it would have taken too long to figure out a way into the abandoned shop, so he had reluctantly moved on.

He had found a drinking fountain next to a corner-stationed public refresher stall, and had availed himself of what he hoped to be potable water. It tasted slightly of chlorine and citrus, and half an hour later the S'ti'ach was feeling no ill effects, so he imagined he was all right.

Now, some hours later, Pev realized that the zombie hoard had thinned. He couldn't place exactly when the creatures had begun diminishing in number, for it was dark and he'd been fleeing, but he was certainly alone, at least for the moment.

Turning another corner, Pev found himself looking at the docks. Above, shrouded in night sky, a huge thing hung. Roughly cigar-shaped, it was tethered to a docking clamp at the edge of the river, a worn wooden dock extending beneath it. Set back from the edge of the water ran a series of squat warehouses, none more than two stories tall. Along the river itself, spaced out at regular intervals, ran more docks, waiting for ships that would likely never return.

What did they ply the waters for? wondered the S'ti'ach, approaching cautiously. The dark depths beyond the banks of the river seemed to threaten, and Pev had to steel himself to approach the docking rope of the airship. Fish? Trade? Does this river lead to a sea, and across that another land? Are those people similarly affected, or do they await supplies, wondering what storms have blown their comrades off course?

Pev shook himself from his reverie, and realized he was lonely. It was this place. It did not live; it was the absence of life. More, it was the perversion of life. Whatever had caused this had stolen the spirit of a planet.

For the first time in his life, Pev sighed. A decidely human thing, small and unheard in the darkness.

Examining the docking clamp and the rope, the XO grabbed hold with all four hands, braced himself on the post that held the clamp, and pulled as hard as he could. The clamp groaned, shifted, finally came free, releasing the rope in a sudden burst of movement. Now Pev's mood brightened as he dashed after the only thing keeping the airship moored, and launched himself deftly at it, grabbing hold as it drifted free of the land.

Hand over hand (over hand over hand and with feet) he climbed, always looking up, never down at the dark waters beneath, as the airship drifted. He was nearly to the top, to the underside of the zeppelin, when his comm badge chirped.

A burst of static, and something that might have been a voice, familiar yet indistinguishable. The Chief? Was that that Hawking, breaking through the communications barrier? Pev wanted to respond, but his position was precarious, and he needed to focus on getting aboard the airship and not falling.

Water, he thought. Some day I really must learn to swim.

**Originally posted on 29 November 2007 by Pev **

"I can't find anything. There's nothing on this data card!" Javier told Dr. Munro harshly. "There's no tritripta-oxy-sodium-whateverthehell…I don't see it. I can't see it!"

Jillian sat at one of the desks, gravely silent, in a thinking position. She looked up at Javier and tried to offer him a reassuring smile, "Clues comes and go, Javier. But we can't stop looking, " she could see the frustration in his face, "You should take a break. I've got this."

Javier simply turned and walked away.

Ealier Jillian had found pictures of the molecular structures of three different compounds; on their own it didn't tell her much, but she had a hunch that together they might give her some clue into what was going on, Anything is better than nothing, she whispered to herself.

She continued to flip through the files, pulling out any documents that made even the slightest sense to her. If only she could read their language. Looking over at the rest of the group she called out, "What's the chance that someone hear knows how to translate a launguage sans a universal translator."

No response.

"OK, then," Jillian sighed, "….Well, it's no 'Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra', but it's still difficult to comprehend. I can piece together certain symbols, and it helps that most of these documents are written in the scientific tongue, but it's still not enough. I need to know what they were doing, I can't tell if what I'm reading is a cure or the virus itself."

"Keep trying, Jill. You're going to have to improvise," Nils said with a hint of encouragement.

She shrugged, "I'm not sure I can, Nils. You know me, I don't want to say that I'm giving up, but without a medical lab or even a bloody tricorder…I'm as blind as a bat in a batcave." She paused, "Literally."

Shaking off the need to add some comic relief to the situation, she asked seriously, "What are the risks in using the tricorder for a few minutes?"

Originally posted on 29 November 2007 by Jillian Munro

.:Outside the Building:.

Tatiana was leaning against the vehicle, arms crossed at her chest. Anthony and Bianca had exited the car and were about to enter the building and she had decided to stay behind. She'd had engaged in enough action during the last few hours to last her multiple lifetimes past her own. If there was a word beyond exhaustion she'd be the picture of it. Her genetic makeup did not support that time of constant activity. "I'm a doctor, not a freakin' Amazon," she said and shifted her weight.

The silence of the area unnerved her, and she looked over her shoulder. There was something far off that she couldn't quite make out. Tatiana squinted her eyes and walked from around the car. She jogged a few feet up before turning on her heel and hightailing it in the opposite direction. She slammed into the car to stop herself and reached through the window to grab the two weapons she had wielded earlier on one of the many clans of the undead. She took the keys out and stuffed them down in her boot. The building that Anthony and Bianca had entered earlier loomed over her and she found herself regretting staying behind. But the fear of facing the gang of zombies versus the few that resided in the building pushed her towards the door and she entered.

It was quiet, and that initially scared the shit out of her. But she kept moving slowly into the building with the guns grasped tightly in her hands. The deep imprinted RUGER met roughly with the skin between her index and thumb and she raised her arms in preparation of the fight ahead. She had goals for this trek:

1. Find Trann and Bianca

2. Investigate the lifesign

3. Get the Hell out of there and don't look back

"Follow the plan Tatiana, and we'll make it out alright," she said to calm herself and picked the left hall of the building to investigate.

.:Inside the Building:.

"You don't have to cradle me" Said Anthony, unlatching himself from Bianca, now crawling around the building he leaped back…

"Welcome to the Danrea Paradise, enjoy your stay!" Yelled a female voice, Anthony spun around, then realised that i was coming from the speaker phones.

"Wow, nice place to be trying to survive" Said Bianca, half giggling.

"Shh, did you hear that?" whispered Anthony.

"Hear what?" Screamed Bianca.

"Shut it!"


Without further argument, Anthony placed his palm on her mouth, the distinct moan of…One of the creatures pounced Anthony, thrashing him to the ground.

"Quick, Shoot the thing!" Yelled Anthony,

"Stop moving" Yelled Bianca, Anthony squirmed under the things weight, whatever it was, had been eating alot, kicking the creature up Anthony leaped to his feet, then delivered a blow to the creatures face, but it recoiled and knocked him to the ground again, his time Anthony had his hands grasped on the creatures face, slobber pouring all over him, Anthony yelled out.

"Bianca now!" Screamed Anthony, Bianca fired the weapon, and the bullet grazed Anthony's arm, thankful of no entry, it was painful, from the corner of his eye 2 more poured into the room, of which Bianca shot one, but then ran out of ammo, and leapt out the nearby window screaming. Perhaps the car was a better place to stay, and Tatiana probably knew what she was doing, but Anthony had more problems on his hands, first was a really heavy zombie intent on making him his after dinner snack, and another which would probably take 3-4 seconds the cross the hall and attack him.

Hope for a miracle.

Tatiana froze when she heard the sound of shots being fired. It was coming from behind her, in the right hallway of the building and she turned to follow the sound. She did so cautiously, moving at a pace that would allow her both to increase her speed and stop suddenly. Her gripped tightened yet again around the weapon and as she got closer to the sound, she screamed shrilly as a figure jumped out from the room next to her. She was surprised and shot the left-hand branded weapon at the head of the figure. When it hit the ground, finally dead, she took several deep breaths as her heart sought to end its pounding rhythm. "There's your Taharah you bastard," she spat when she noticed the round hole in the middle of the rotten flesh. She kicked the corpse for good measure and stalked off towards the sounds.

If theres anytime to act, it was now, Anthony kicked the fat one off him, then round-housed kicked it, kicking off its head like a soccer ball, taking the opportunity he bounced the head on his knees and feet, then kicked it at the other one, it bounced off, Anthony picked up his rifle and fired three shots into it, Taking a deep breath he rubbed the blister on his right arm where miss self-centered had shot him.

Turning the corner, Anthony screamed in fear and bumped into Tatiana. Her nose exploded in pain and she resisted the urge to check it and held up the weapons as tears clouded her eyes. Gravity pulled them down her face and she didn't dare blink the rest away. She could feel her eyes begin to burn when she didn't blink and her finger almost squeezed the trigger when she noticed Trann.

"Hey, you alright? It's all fine, you're still alive" Said Anthony, trying to comfort her, but in his mind it was working.

"But breathing may be a bit of a chore," she growled, and pushed past Trann. She had stuffed one the guns in the side of the pants and cradled her nose. She hissed in pain when she moved it and determined during a quick examination that she didn't break her nose. It was tender, and hurt like a bitch, but that was all. She was beginning to tired of running into people.

Originally posted on 29 November 2007 by Anthony Trann and Tatiana Thorne**

:: Halcyon ::
:: The "Bat-cave" ::

Nils watched the beautiful doctor at work, regretting all the nasty things he’d said…or not said… to her. Jillian’s voice shook him from his regretful pondering. "What are the risks in using the tricorder for a few minutes?"

The Lieutenant shook his head wearily. Circumstance began wearing on him, and the fact that Jillian may well be infected with the zombie virus was enough to make his head cave in. “I don’t have the slightest idea,” he said. And he really didn’t.

They’d managed to eek out a fair chunk of peace in this cavern, but there was no telling what made a zombie decide when the right time for attack had arrived. It may well be that the zombies had lost track of them precisely because they’d ceased the operation of their electronics. One thing was indisputable, however. The zombies were definitely gone off to somewhere.

“I think we risk drawing them all down on our heads the moment our scans disturb their neurogenic network,” he said relying on his working theory. “But considering what’s at stake,” a moment of intense emotion threatened to overtake him. Once again he was faced with the prospect of perhaps losing Jillian. It seemed that had been a theme in one way or another since they’d arrived on the Hawking. A pang of loss for their life on Sentinel joined the chorus of feelings welling within him.

“I think it’s worth the risk,” he finished finally. Without a word he closed the distance between them and hugged her. The hug was lingering and affectionate. Nils closed his eyes, attempting to transmit how he was feeling through osmosis. When he considered the job sufficiently done he released her and wandered off.

Thankfully, the next person Nils passed on his cathartic walk of emotion was Nolan. The weary Bajoran took a knee and grabbed the boy by the arms. A wash of relief flooded him and he pulled Nolan in close and squeezed him around his middle. Nolan fell into the man and squeezed him tight around the neck as if the hug had been planned. The usually stoic man would never forgive himself if anything happened to either Jillian or Nolan.

Still without words, Nils released the fiery spirited youth and continued his wander. He hoped he didn’t pass Costala next. In his present state there was every possibility he may even give that man a hug. He suddenly shuddered from the thought.

It was time to recheck his communiqué. Fortunately the bat-cave had become a staging area of sorts for the away team. But they’d still yet to hear from many of the crew who’d beamed down to Halcyon. The only thing he knew to do was recheck the comm station. That…and say one more prayer to the Prophets.

Originally posted on 29 November 2007 by Torrik Nils

L’mek exhausted and starving found himself on the hard cold ground face down and feeling the pain of the worse headache he had ever felt. Slowly pushing himself up he could feel a groan escape.

“Please gods don’t let them think I’m infected.” He thought to himself.

Once he got to a vertical base he felt the familiar warmth trace his brow ridge and make it to the bottom of the “V” shape it made. L’mek put his hand there and pulled it away so he could see it. As he pulled his hand away the emerald fluid on his hand confirmed his suspicions.

“Perfect now I have an abrasion to add to my already haggard looks.” He muttered. Reaching up again he felt the source of the blood to find it fresh and stinging upon his touch. Quickly pulling his hand back he looked up at everyone noticing there conditions once he adjusted to the light.

He noticed Gamma team and part of Beta team. Feeling safer now he bent down to pick up his honor blade from where he had collapsed. And put it back into its sheath.

Taking stock of the situation and what everyone was doing he walked to where Dr. Munro was sitting and looked at the device she was working on.

After a short pause L’mek sat down next to her and said “ Now I’m not an expert on there language, but is there any way I can be of assistance?”

Originally posted on 29 November 2007 by L'mek

T'Shaini, lost in thought, moved quickly through the passageway to take her back to the others. Mind whirling with possibilities and doubts she paid little mind to the outside world. The way back was poorly lit and dank, claustrophobic in comparison to the cavern it led to. Brought up short by a sound closing in she fumbled for a weapon before coming to the realization that she had left unarmed. Stupid, incredibly stupid. She pressed herself against the wall and waited, unsure of what her plan of action would be if whoever/whatever was approaching was hostile.

The light in the corridor was brighter..or is it just the artifical light projected through the helmet's sockets? the engineer wondered as he walked along the corridor that led to the outside of the bunker. A sound from the area in front of him cause Javier to stop and listen. He could distinguish the sound of someone moving, searching for something. The scent that he caught in the stale, close air of the corridor identified the person.

Without thought or reason he stepped forward and pulled the helmet off, Javier loomed over T'Shaini as she recognized him in the last instant. He heard her gasp as he pressed against her, crushing her lips with his own as he pressed her back into the corridor wall. His mouth searched hers as his hand reached up to the uniform collar and tore it open, revealing her slender neck. His lips moved down to her neck, he could feel the blood pulsing through her body as he reached her shoulder then embedded his teeth into the soft flesh, tearing at the…Javier snapped out of the dream. He stood staring at the place where he knew the Vulcan woman would be but didn't move. His breathing was ragged, like he had just run six miles in under a minute.

Keep the helmet on and just walk on by her. was the first thought that came to the engineer's mind. It was a good plan. He started walking, looking steadily forward, not acknowledging T'Shaini's presence.

As the figure stepped into sight relief flooded T'Shaini's body. Javier! She moved forward only to realize he was beginning to brush past her. She stepped out to block his path, Perhaps his vision is inhibited by the helmet.. and reached out. "Javier…wait."

He sighed inwardly and stopped in front of her. Javier lifted his hand and waved to T'Shaini then moved to the side so he could step around her and continue on his way but was brought to a halt by her plea. He wanted to take her hand. To touch her just for a moment but held himself back as images from the dream made the engineer intentionally distance himself.

Oh. He did recognize her, it was not that he did not know who was in the corridor, but that once again he was pulling away. "Please…" She felt a constriction in her chest that would not subside. She comprehened, or thought she did, why he was avoiding her but wanted to make something clear. "I understand you do not wish to harm me…I do not believe you could." She stepped closer, testing whether he would allow her to. "Or perhaps you think me unable to defend myself?"

The engineer shook his head to her last question. I am not taking this helmet off. Javier told himself. He wanted to tell T'Shaini so many things but the thought of infecting her with what he had witnessed and experienced kept the engineer at bay. The prototype harnesses the long as I wear this suit completely I'm not a threat to her. he surmised. Javier looked on either side of the corridor as if searching for something. The place was littered with old crates and black metallic ammo boxes. A thick layer of dust covered each one. The engineer picked one up and then put his right foot up on another. Balancing the ammo box on his upper leg, Javier wrote something in the dust that covered the top of the box. He showed it to T'Shaini.

It said: "I don't want to take any chances."

She nodded, what else could she do? If their places were reversed she would behave the same way. She ran her fingers through her tangled hair. The weight on her chest grew until it threatened to crush her. "I suppose I am being selfish." Which she was. "I know Jillian will find a cure and I want you to be here when she does…and even though I know there is nothing I can do, I want to, I need to help."

Javier nodded and flipped the metal case over so he would have a new surface on which to write. He paused then began to write, tracing the words out in the dust with a gloved finger, after a few minutes he showed the script to T'Shaini. "Not selfish, concerned. But I want you to stay safe." The engineer flipped the case and wrote more words: "That is the way you can help me." He moved the crate over to the final dust covered side. "Someone has to tell Lia what happened. Will you?" he etched in the dust then showed the Vulcan woman.‘Even if Dr. Munro was able to find a cure he wanted to ensure that T’Shaini would take all the necessary precautions to stay safe.

Oh gods. "Yes, of course I will make certain that Lia hears the news from a less impersonal voice than Starfleet…if it becomes necessary. Which I refuse to believe that it will." As a counselor she knew far too well that someones outlook on a situation often determined their outcome. Deep breath "Javier," Her hands curled into fists as she struggled against the urge to reach out to him. "I will do whatever is necessary, but you must promise me that you will do whatever it takes to remain Javier…no matter how hard it may seem ." It was often much more difficult to choose to live.

Once again Javier was glad he was encapsulated in the suit. He was glad T'Shaini couldn't see his eyes. The engineer nodded in agreement while thinking to himself, I will do what I can to protect her from myself..from becoming like me. He had made his decision, he was leaving…

<>Purify her.<> the Voice said suddenly. Javier jerked away in surprise and the metal box crashed to the floor.

"Who are you?" the engineer asked, his voice muffled inside of the helmet. He remembered the Voice, it had spoken to him in the bowels of the factory. After he had put on the prototype suit it had called him. Perfection.

<>Ultimate Perfection. I am your father, you are one of my children.<>

"I am not one of your children," Javier replied, he held his hand out to T'Shaini, keeping her an arm's length away from himself. "I have killed your children. I have rent them to pieces using this suit and its weapons."

T'Shaini started toward him at the muffled noises escaping from the helmet, but his outstretched hand kept her at bay, once more.

<>You are a vision of my children as they should be.<> the voice rasped. <>Sterialize the others. Purify them with the gift you have received..and bring me the one you call Nathan Benjamin.<>

Javier's mind raced as he heard the Voice mention the captain. What does he want the captain for? He waited and when nothing more was said, asked, "Where should I bring him?"

A peal of perverse laughter rang in his head. <>Follow my lesser children. They always return to their father's house before daybreak.<> The laughter continued and Javier knew that the Voice was walking closer to insanity than anyone he had known. <>Do what you must First-born but do not disappoint your father.<> The sound of the voice faded out.

"F**k you." Javier whispered. There was no answer. He stood for a moment in silent contemplation. I can't leave them. The captain is in danger. We have to find him and only I can get through the creatures without being attacked. He reached out and took T'Shaini by the hand then led her back into the bunker. Upon reaching the others he let go of the counselor's hand, giving it a quick squeeze, before he reached up and removed his helmet.

"They know we're here," he said, getting the other's attention. "Their leader knows where we are, he can communicate with this suit…worse he's aware of the others. He knows who we are and he wants Captain Benjamin."

Originally posted on 29 November 2007 by T'Shaini and Javier Costala

"Shut up."

As the surly Wombat-Man walked off, the small boy simply shrugged as he turned to stick his tongue out toward the S&M dark knight's retreating back. Apparently, Nolan's question had annoyed him. If anything this was reason to do it again. Negative reinforcement was the best kind of attention a kid could ask for in his mind. Or at least a distant second. Hugs were always the best kind of attention. But Nolan didn't get many hugs, so he had to make do with what he got. And that was an audience ripe to annoy, pester, and otherwise bratify. In that sense, it probably wasn't any wonder that Nolan didn't get many hugs. It was a vicious cycle of self-fulfilling prophecy based on prankish juvenile antics!

Pivoting around on his heel, the intrepid hero swept his cape behind him and walked… right into a hug.

"Uh… hello!" was all the boy could think to say, as he suddenly found himself in the arms of Torrik Nils. Not that Nolan was complaining. Torrik gave good hugs. This was just the first time that Nolan ever remembered being hugged by Nils. He'd hugged the Bajoran before but it was unexpected to have the curmudgeony wrinkly nose stoic initiate the hugging. Or really reciprocate for that matter. All of which was more to think about than ought to be thinking when one was being offered a good hug, so Nolan just as quickly dismissed it all and threw his arms around Nils' neck to hug him back.

Being in a secure, warm embrace also reminded the boy of how sleepy he was. If Torrik would have picked him up, Nolan could have just passed out in his arms. But that wasn't likely to happen and, true to form, the hug came and went. With Torrik loping off to do… whatever it was that curmudgeony Bajorans did on zombie-infested undead planets.

Rubbing at his eyes some more, Nolan looked over to see L'mek and Jillian consulting over some errant piece of anthropological, linguistic medicine babble. Not anything he could help with. Instead he was drawn to a sudden appreciation for the Hawking's chief medical officer. The light of the heavens split through the clouds and as angels descended to the right and left of the tenuously ethereal hand of God, Nolan saw a warm lap.

Casting aside his gunbelt and guitar, the small speckled youth plopped down beside the doctor and without a word dropped his head down upon her thigh as he curled up on the floor against her, tugging at the cape in order to draw it around himself like a blanket. After four hundred freakin' years… he'd finally realized what doctors were good for.

Pillows. They made good body pillows.

And in the wake of being attacked in the bathroom by a rancid, half decomposed corpse… the prospect of getting cooties suddenly didn't seem so bad.

Originally posted on 29 November 2007 by Nolan Marc

Standing watch was a good excuse for some privacy - even had the benefit of being based in necessity - and he’d damn well keep it but Harry had passed the point where he could stand still for any length of time. He was, despite some quality minutes of down time in the car, wrung out. Add to that the drain of dehydration, hunger and injury and suddenly, holding up the wall watching the empty street stay empty was no longer an option.

As a result, he’d taken to pacing the office every few minutes, rooting through the wreckage and getting to know the people who’d once worked here. At first glance, it was a normal enough place… there’d been the family pictures and the silly shoes… and the bottle. He’d almost upended it onto the ruined floor. He hadn’t.

Instead Harry had tucked the small container of whatever the locals used to numb their senses back into it’s hiding place. There it could continue to wait for the shaking hand, the furtive sip, the guilty sigh that would never come again.

Since T’Shaini had departed, he’d made two more rounds… the first he spent sifting through pages of what looked to be a newspaper. He couldn’t read the language but the blaring headlines, along with images of a fighting force and multicolored maps painted a picture of unrest.

Another piece of the puzzle.

He checked the street, which was still as silent as the average grave, and then made another round of the interior. He’d been over the whole thing about six times, by now but the changing aspect of the sun altered the view every time. Pacing the circumference of the room, Harry noted a very non-office-like object, hulking in the rear right corner.

Carefully, he crouched down beside the black rectangular item, noted it’s antenna, a couple of buttons and a dial along one side. The front had a small, round grill-like inset… speaker?

He rose, carried it back to the broken-down doorway, looked outside, then back at the object. “If you’re a bomb,” he told it, “I’m going to be really disappointed." Then he turned the dial until he heard a dull ‘click’. He didn’t blow up. So far, so good. Pressing one of the buttons, he heard a crackle of static, “This is Harry Finn calling… anyone.”

Scrp pop..”..anyone…” echoed from the middle of the room. Harry almost jumped out of his skin.

“Yeah, you bad,” he told himself as he followed the sound to a second box, which had ended up under a trash receptacle dead center of the office. Pulling it out and creaking his way back to standing, he held up the pair of communicators, “Wonder what your range is?” he asked, knowing that, probably too soon for comfort, he’d have the chance to find out.

Originally posted on 30 November 2007 by Harry Finn

After a short pause L’mek sat down next to her and said “ Now I’m not an expert on there language, but is there any way I can be of assistance?”

Jillian sighed deeply with a thankful smile, “Yes! Absolutely.” She handed him the stack of papers that she, had been reading and pointed out the diagrams of molecular structures, “Recognize any of these?” She asked.

The contemplative Romulan took the papers and began sifting through the diagrams, “It would appear to be…” he paused as he looked over the diagrams a second time, just to be certain, “anhydrotetrodotoxin 4-epitetrodotoxin, tetrodonic acid, and TTX.”

Jillian nodded, “Yes! Now, from what I can gather, it looks like the scientists of this planet formulated this compound. Why or what for… I don’t know. But…” she took a deep breath, “I just know it has something to with what’s going on. There has to be a cure!”

L’mek turned to look at her, asking quite seriously, “A cure? Has anyone been infected?”

Jillian looked down at the little boy whos head was resting on her lap. She gently swept away his hair from his eyes and looked back up at L’mek, “Officer Costala and I were…bitten.” She held up her injured hand, “If we don’t find a cure fast…we’re going to turn into one of those creatures outside.” The thought terrified her more than she could express. Yearning for comfort, she reached down and squeezed Nolan into a tight embrace. She was scared.

Forgetting that Jillian was also a Doctor, L’mek pulled her hand towards him and started to inspect, “We need antibiotics. There must be something around here.”

“Believe me, I wish there was.”

“The tricorders? Can we use them?”

“It’s most likely going to attract the ghoulies outside…But…” she shrugged, “What choice do we have?”

"They know we're here." A voice said from across the room.

Javier. Jillian put her hand on Nolan's shoulder and gently shook him awake.

"Their leader knows where we are, he can communicate with this suit…worse he's aware of the others. He knows who we are and he wants Captain Benjamin."

"Oh my god", was all Jillian could think of to say.

Originally posted on 30 November 2007 by Jillian Munro**

.: The Roof of the Office building :.

The trip to the top of the office building had been littered with challenges (And long dead, but somehow still very animated bodies.) Whether it be the undead constantly popping up and attempting to devour the two officers, or the former marine's insistence on using the pair's only explosives early in the game, their climb had taxed them both considerably. But when they'd reached the top, and had dispatched the several zombies that had been lurking on the top few floors- at least those that had come at them initially- they'd been able to take a long look at the city surrounding them. The dreary, decayed landscape looked no better at dusk than it had at mid-day when they'd arrived. As the odd pair had stood catching their breath, Nathan decided that it would be best if they slept in 2 hours shifts.

The first watch was uneventful. The teen found himself walking the perimeter of the buildingtop, singing old earth songs to keep himself from dozing. Between a lack of sleep; He hadn't had much sleep the night before thanks to a certain eight year old clone that insisted upon keeping him awake with his stirring rendition of several of the older Benjamin's music discs; and the strenuous activity of running from, gunning down, and punting zombies all day, the teen was pretty worn down. So two hours after he'd began his watch, and about twenty minutes after his first attempt to roust the sleeping Lieutenant, Nathan finally stretched out on some old rags and under an old overcoat garment that he'd pulled off a rack on one of the building's upper floors.

His nap lasted fifteen whole minutes.

As his eyes reluctantly opened, Nathan's brain took note of a mass in front of his face. Unaware of the personal space concept, the dark mass sat, dripping what the teen first thought to be water on his cheek. "You're an asshole!" He complained, turning his head to the side.

"I am not!" Vince called out, looking over to where Nathan way laying. Through the darkness, the pilot could see that the teen wasn't alone.

Nathan's head meanwhile, had come to rest mere inches from a hand that he could tell was not that of his recalcitrant pilot. Aside from the decidedly rotten aroma coming off it, the appendage was missing several things that come pretty standard on most hands; alive hands anyhow. Most of the skin, what was left anyhow, was blistered or burned. The absence of an opposable thumb was another thing that gave it's undead owner away. Miliseconds dragged on for days as the creature drooled on his cheek. Anticipating the worst, and having no way to reach the boomstick in time, Nathan squeezed his eyes closed as it drew closer. He felt his left hand reaching for the throat, ready to claw, scratch choke, or whatever else his reflex had in mind. But as he felt the tender, putrified neck flesh, the zombie jerked violently to the left and was limp. Seconds passed with Nathan's hands still attached to the neck of the now docile carcass.

"Are you ok… Did it bite you… " Vince yelled, rushing over to where the body was laid on top of his CO. "Are you… Oh." He stammered, seeing the very much alive teen still on is back, holding the corpse up with his hands. Brain matter, blood, bits of bone and various other bodily substances now covered his face and hair. The zombie's neck still gushed it's black life force out onto the teen's hands and down his burgundy shirtsleeves.

"Auch." Nathan got out, pushing the body off him. He immediatley wuped his hands on the ratty old jacket that he'd been lying on, and used the opposite corner to wipe some of the gunk off his face. He'd barely made it to Sitting position before the second zombie, followed by a few friends came lumbering through the door.

Needless to say, np time was over.

~ A few hours Later (0445 Hours)~

"We only have so many rounds!" Vince yelled, attempting to be heard over the archaic weapon system.

His young captain, frantically attempting to re-load his boomstick nodded in agreement, speech made impossible by the shell gripped between his teeth. As soon as was practical, he replied. "Yeah, but we used up all the exploding things on the third floor… Remember?"

"Hey… I didn't know they were having a party up on the top floor Cappy… I figured we'd be ok."

"Well…" Nathan began, bracing himself for the weapons considerable kick as he squeezed the trigger. "We're not "Ok" Okay? There's freakin… like… festering, drooling… smelly sacks of death trying to eat us up here… and we don't have bullets forever dude." The teen watched with some satisfaction as his shot decorated the rear wall of the stairwell in a brainmatter motif. "We gotta figure out a way off this roof.. And we don't have any stairs any more. Got any bright ideas?"

Vince shook his head. "We could always jump." He deadpanned, taking aim at a creeping shadow at the top of the stairwell. "Course that probably wouldn't end very well for us."

Nathan fell back beside the pilot as he popped another round in his mouth, using both hands to open the weapon's breech. " Ithed…RIGHT ideas!" Nathan chided around the shell. As soon as he could, he yanked the impeding projectile out of his mouth and glanced over at Vince, who's attention was directed solely upon the doorway that he was currently spraying lead death into.

Originally posted on 1 December 2007 by Vince Stryfe and Nathan Benjamin

-LATER- Still on the roof.

“Attention all Starfleet personnel"

Nathan head whipped to the right, eyeballing the little device affixed to "Rambo's" chest. Not quite believing his ears, the teen leaned in, almost resting his head on the man's chest to hear the staticy transmission.

"Hey… what are you…"

"Shut up!" Nathan yelled, snatching the com badge off Vince's chest and holding the silver and gold device to his ear.

"…… enact UFP Regulation 3.465881-243, paragraph three. Repeat… This is a Code 1 broadcast over open channels. Make every effort to enact UFP Regulation 3.465881-243, paragraph three.”

"YES! Finally!" Nathan exclaimed, relief washing over him. "It's Nils!" He informed a slightly confused Vince, who'd stopped shooting long enough to hear the message.

"What did he say?" the pilot asked… "What's he talking… regulation 3.4…"

"Nathan paused, listening once again to the message before turning to the pilot. "Its a code." He answered finally, tapping the badge for a reply.

"Last sender, this is Hawking Actual." Out of the corner of his eye, the teen spied a particularly disgusting zombie dragging it's mangled carcass in Vince's direction. Pausing his message, the teen indicated the creature with a nod. "We acknowledged Code One status and confirm 3.465881. Our situation at current prevents… "

Seeing that Vince hadn't picked up his hint, the teen raised the shotgun, dropping the active comm badge onto the cement in front of him. "Move!" He yelled, taking aim at the lumbering corpse, now only feet from a tasty Stryfe snack.

.:First Floor of Building:.

Tatiana slowed her pace when her combadge suddenly gained new life and listened to the message. Nils' voice was delivering instructions and she finally stopped to listen. Her face twisted in confusion and she found herself grabbing her bottom lip as she ran through the regulations through her mind. The number bothered her, she couldn't place exactly what it was and she looked to Trann and Bianca, "I think it's code, but I can't exactly place it. What do you think it means?"

"Give me a second, wait, what?" Said Anthony, not really paying attention, his gaze was across the window, and when he looked down, he turned around.

"You, you were saying?" Asked Anthony

"Wait," Tatiana said with a raised finger, someone was replying. It was the Captain, and suddenly she found herself hopeful. She knew that others were alive, "Now, that we can contact each other…" She didn't finish her sentence and instead tapped her combadge, she cleared her throat before speaking, =/\=To any an all Starfleet personnel in the Danrea Province, we require your assistance and any medical supplies you may have.=/\= After she finished, she scoffed, "This isn't even right that a doctor is asking someone to bring medical supplies that she should already have. Hopefully, there's someone nearby."

.: Back on the roof :.

The pilot dove toward his captain's feet, allowing Nathan all the room he needed to unload his weapon on the uninvited demon.

The zombies had stopped coming for the time being. Nathan and Vince took the momentary reprieve to regroup and account for what little ammunition that was left. Looking in the dusty old backpack that he'd discarded as soon as they'd made it to the roof, the reluctant slayer of the undead emptied it's contents onto the ground before him.

"What have you got?" Vince asked, taking a seat beside his young CO.

Nathan shrugged, producing five of the shotgun shell looking rounds. "Just five shots." He answered. "Plus what's in it."

As the pilot opened his mouth to answer, Vince's comm badge, which was now affixed to Nathan's red undershirt, chirped once again. Once the doctor's message had ended, the teen hurriedly tapped the badge to reply.

=/\= Last Calling Station, Hawking Actual. Mark your location with low tech means… We will do the same. =/\ =

"Wonder where they are?" Vince mused, securing another belt -one of the last- of ammunition to the Ramboesque weapon that he'd been using since their escapades began.

.:First Floor:.

=/\= Acknowledged. =/\= Tatiana responded. She tapped Trann on the shoulder and motioned for him to follow her, "Stay here Bianca," she said. She set off on a quick pace, headed towards the entrance to the building. She paused at the glass doors, searching for the zombies she had seen earlier. They were much closer than they were before, too close for comfort, but what had to be done to find others was necessary, "What I'm about to do is going to be all kinds of stupid," she warned, "but we need to get a sign to the captain. We're going to go out, shoot a couple of zombies, hope he hears the sound of our weapons and go from there."

Before Anthony could either agree or disagree, she cut him off, "This is all I can think of right now."

"Let's do it," he responded and they both shot out of the building. She stopped at the bottom of the steps and pulled out the other gun from her side. She aimed towards the approaching crowd and both she and Trann began their assault. The gun in her right hand clicked without firing off a shot and she threw it down before hitting her combadge again with her free hand. She shouted over the din, =/\= Is that marked enough, sir? =/\=

.: Back on the roof :.

"Arhhhhh." Vince cried, turning to give the doorway another dose of the hot lead treatment.

Tuning to assist the former marine in "bringing sweet death" to the already dead minions, Nathan realized two things. First, He'd put down the shotgun and was thus, weaponless. Secondly, and perhaps most important, he was attempting to listen or look for a signal. It's hard to hear anything at all, let alone the sounds of distant weapons fire, when a machine gun is going off not ten feet from your ears. In an effort to distance himself from Vince's shooting gallery, and to stop the ringing in his ears, the young captain made his way to the edge of the roof. By chance, or from whatever crazy quirk that makes people look off the edge of any tall thing they happen to be standing on, Nathan looked over the side of the building. What he saw below him was almost too good to be true. He blinked several times, but the beautiful visage below remained. He couldn't make out who it was… but they were human. He knew that much from the fact that they were actively engaged in the slaying of zombies.

Just as he was about to tap his badge and clue them in, Tatiana was on the air again. Once she'd finished, Nathan grabbed a chunk of concrete, hurling it to the ground. It landed a few scant feet from Trann's feet. As the pair of officers below cast their eyes skyward, Nathan waved at them from his perch.

.:Down Below:.

"Huh," she said, "I guess we're going to be heading up there now." Tatiana and Trann entered the building again, and made their way back to where Bianca was waiting. She reached inside the bag that Bianca had carried around and grabbed out one of the bigger weapons. She'd seen Anthony shoot one earlier and the number of shots it let out, would making the killing go much faster than it had been.

"We're headed towards the roof," she told Bianca as she walked on, "There are actual living people up there," she said and increased her pace.

"Who?" Bianca whispered to Trann behind her, and Tatiana could vaguely hear him respond to her.

The trek down the hall was quiet and she came to a stop at the door that would open to reveal stairs. Anthony placed his rifle's barrel against the door, then opened the door, with a loud haunting creek it slid open, very slowly. Bianca screamed.

"We need to get outta here we need to get outta here…" Screamed Bianca, Anthony shushed her, the looked at Tatiana.

"Okay, How far up exactly are these lifesigns?," Said Anthony, not bothering to check his own computer.

Tatiana turned and shot him an exasperated look before rolling her eyes, "They're on the roof," she reminded him before turning to look at him curiously, in all the excitement she had forgotten for that quick second of his injury. "We're definitely going to need that medkit and soon," she said before walking up the darkened staircase.

.: Meanwhile on the roof :.

"Vince….VINCE!!!" Nathan yelled, hurrying over to the pilot… "There's people down there… " The pilot, still caught up in his Rambo impersonation, didn't hear his CO yelling from across the roof. Seconds went by as Nathan crossed the building's cement topside to where the former marine stood, emptying his belt fed weapon into what used to be a perfectly good doorway. Upon reaching him, Nathan screamed in the man's ear…


Vince stopped shooting his gun as the young captain yelled right in his ear. He turned and looked at Nathan," What?!?, can't you see that I'm busy ending the existence of these things, and surprisingly I'm enjoying it to. So make it quick, I need to get back to work here."

"There's people down there." He said, indicating the front of the building. "We gotta go back down."

Vince looked back towards the now destroyed entrance to the building, then back at Nathan, then again at the doorway," Umm…. Sweet, I'll get to blow some more things away, but of course I don't think it's a very good idea, but thats just me." He looked back at the doorway, pulling the trigger again, knocking some more of the zombies to the ground, watching them twitch," Not to mention, I've seemed to have made quick a blockage of sorts with all the dead zombies in the stairway."

Nathan gave a hard look to the doorway with it's almost waist high pile of zombie remains. They had to go back down. There was no way around that. Which meant of course that they'd have to wade through the festering pile of death blocking the doorway, and who knew how many still upright… or close to upright zombies on their way back down. Turning to the gung ho Lieutenant, the teen captain could think of nothing eloquent or "captainy" to say.

"Dude." He sighed.

Vince raised an eyebrow, understanding perfectly his young Captain's meaning, then looked back at the doorway," Aight, let's Git-r-done. I'm ready when you are," He slapped the top of the gun," This baby's reloaded, I'll take point, you take the rear, and ………." He paused for a moment, then looked at Nathan," So where exactly are we going now?"

"Dude… We need to send them a message… but I don't want to use the comm badges." Nathan mused, looking around. "Do we have anything to write on… or with?

Vince patted himself, almost to be sarcastic, but a look of surprise came across his face as he found a marker in the side pocket of his pants," Well here's a marker that seems to have found it's way into my pants…… but what to write the message on… "Vince trailed off, looking around in the early morning light for soething to write ON.

"Well uhh… ." Nathan began, trailing off as he searched the top of the building for suitable writing materials. Which was just about the time that visions of an old earth movie about som prisoners escaping captivity by way of commandeering an aircraft began dancing in the teen's brain. "Uhh.. How heavy to you think one of those zombies are?"

Originally posted on 1 December 2007 by Nathan Benjamin, Vince Stryfe, Tatiana Thorne and Anthony Trann.

Once upon a time on Halcyon
Offices of Lerad Tennyson

“I want a retraction,” the slender, silver-haired man stated calmly.

He appeared to be speaking to himself until the black box on his desk crackled a response, in almost-living tones, “But, Mr. Tennyson, the article is based…”

“On supposition strung together with fiction and obfuscated with smoke,” the COO of Tennyson Research and Manufacturing, Inc. snapped, cold eyes focused on the skyline beneath his window. “The reporter never set foot in my factory - this is a case of hearsay making a good bedtime story.”

“Nonetheless, the editor-in-chief…”

Turning back towards the desk, “The editor-in-chief is a a hollow man, a figurehead. I own that paper… in every way that matters… I own it. I expect the retraction in the afternoon edition.” A quick flick of a switch and the call was ended.

On cue, his door opened and Jere, his assistant, crossed the long stretch of carpet, file in hand and worry on her face. “The report you requested,” she said softly, reaching across the lake-sized desk, “and… there’s a Lieutenant Coll from the military to see you.”

He frowned at that. They were pushing too soon: he was still in the early prototype stage. Noe doubt the last debacle in Ulsta had Command chomping for any advantage. “Best show him in,” he said, laying the file before him. He remained standing as Jera made the long trek back and a crisp uniform took her place. A bit young for the nature of the task, Lerad thought but,well, the new military.

He smiled the smile of a busy man as the youth halted before his desk, “Lieutenant, what can I do to assist our glorious military, today?”

That led to an uncomfortable swallow as the young soldier resisted the urge to tug at his collar. “Mr. Tennyson,” he began without preamble, “I regret to inform you that your son, Corps Commander Abselem Tennyson, was killed in action, on 3 Quadren…”

“There is a mistake,” the older man interrupted, still smiling - confident - remote.

“Sir, I’m sorry but Commander…”

“Lem, that is, my son, is stationed nowhere near the front.” I saw to that.

“It was a special operation… behind the lines. I can’t say more than that but, he did succeed in the mission and… he volunteered, sir.”

Just as he had volunteered for service, against Lerad’s wishes… against his orders, come to that. Tennyson’s eyes fell to the desk, landing on the file he’d received. The unmarked file.

“He never listens,” he told the folder.


“Yes, thank you for you time,” was all he said, verbally ushering the messenger out the door.

“Sir, if there is anything the Corps can do for you I this difficult time…”

“I will be sure to let the Corps know.. what I need. Thank you. Good day.” Dismissing the unfortunate soldier from both his office and his thoughts, Tennyson sat down and stared at the file. Finally the door swept quietly open and closed and he allowed himself to open the bland cover.

Unfolded before him were a series of charts, formulas, number sentences and extrapolations derived from the data. Calculations of probable success, acceptable loss.

As he read a dark seed took root in his brain, black tendrils twining forth into a new kind of life, a new progeny, which was nothing like the old… this one would listen.


Originally posted on 1 December 2007 by Harry Finn.

The people in the bunker looked exhausted. Even after Javier told them about the sinister leader of the zombies and his desire to have Captain Benjamin brought to him, the responses were surprise dampened by fatigue.

Lt. Torrik turned and gave him one of his characteristic stares from beneath a hooded brow. Always suspicious of me, isn't he? the engineer thought almost wondering if he should adjust his creature course menu and move the Bajoran up into the appetizer space. A few seconds was all it took for the thought to revile him to the point where Javier looked away from the scientist.

"Oh my god," he heard Dr. Munro say.

He noticed L'mek was awake and looking at him curiously. Does he know? No, he can't possibly know..was it that apparent? The engineer averted his eyes away from the person who was close to becoming his first meal. With the movement Javier caught his reflection in the windshield of the car and approached the shattered glass of the windshield so he could gaze at his image.

He was paler and on his cheek were dark red blotches as if something under the skin was trying to make an effort to break free. Javier gasped at the freakshow his features had become. No wonder they were staring blankly. It hadn't been his news that shocked them, it had been his face when he had taken off the helmet. The engineer turned back to the room, noticing that the old monitor Dr. Munro was using to view the data on the virus, was on the same information it had been on when he had left the task. Feeling frustrated and more self-conscuous than he had in quite sometime, Javier slipped the helmet back on. His eyes searched the room.

"Where's Harry?" he asked the bunker's occupants, only to hear the query muffled by the helmet's lack of speaker. Jesus, couldn't they have made this thing with a speaker? the engineer thought angrily as he removed the helmet again and repeated his question to the room.

"I believe he is still watching the perimeter," T'Shaini replied, her eyes wide and locked on his face. "Khev is still out there," she added, leaving the sentence open to interpretation.

"Okay, I'll go find him, we need a plan," Javier said, then explained, "I doubt this person who contacted me is going to leave the task of infecting everyone to me." He slipped the helmet on even as he saw Nils shoot him a questioning look. Not answering that. You're on a need to know basis roomie. He heard T'Shaini query him about his last statement but the engineer effectively locked the helmet into place and walked away so he wouldn't be expected to answer.

Javier moved just out of the immediate range of the bunker group's hearing before he ripped off his helmet and was plunged into a wracking series of coughs. The hoarse, phlegmatic coughing was followed by a pain in his chest that drove the engineer to his knees and for a moment a choking issued from his mouth and then Javier was gasping for air. All he could think of was the head scientist smiling on the video recording as he spoke about the initial stages of infecting a planet.

"You son of a bitch! How could you do it.." Javier said before another fit of coughing exploded from his lungs, sending black spittle to the concrete floor of the bunker's corridor. The engineer gasped for oxygen as he crawled to the side of the corridor and leaned up against the wall close to where he and T'Shaini had had their conversation earlier. Still gasping for precious oxygen, Javier's eyes dropped to the metal boxes upon which he had written his messages to T'Shaini. He stuck out an arm to wipe off the words but pushed against the box's surface harder than he had intended. It flipped over and smashed against the other three and they all skittered over the corridor floor in different directions.

"Creature strength," Javier reminded himself, "not bad, would be perfect if it wasn't followed by the desire to eat your loved ones and friends." He laughed aloud, then stopped upon hearing how similar his mirth was to that of the person who spoke to him through the suit. The engineer sighed and then looked down at the floor where the ammunition crates had been placed.

A trap door was built into the concrete floorspace. Javier stared at the door then reached over and lifted the handle that was set in the door. The trap door creaked back on its rusty hinges. Javier sniffed at the opening, then pulled on his helmet and dropped through the open space.

Originally posted on 1 December by Javier Costala

“When you get back to dock and your long trip is through
There's pubs, and there's clubs, and there's lassies there, too
The girls are all pretty and the beer is all free
And there's bottles of rum growing on every tree.”

“Holy crap!” Finn placed the twinned radios on the nearest shelf and drew both sidearms before he stepped through the patchy barricade where the doors had once stood.

"Dress me up in me oilskins and jumper
No more on the docks I'll be seen
Just tell me old shipmates I'm taking a trip, mates
And I'll see you someday on Fiddlers' Green."

Finn smiled, first real grin in what felt like years - he knew that voice. Scanning the street he spotted the unlikely source of the shanty, saw no other movement besides, “Jackson,” he hailed the approaching baritone, “trying to wake the dead?”

In answer the Master Chief raised a crow-bar in salute and continued,

“Well I don't want a harp nor a halo, not me
Just give me a breeze and a good rolling sea
And I'll play me old squeezebox as we sail along
With the wind in the rigging to sing me this song,” and as he came up even with the security officer added, “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re already awake.”

Then before Harry could say a word added, “How you doing, Harry?” and applied the patented and, in this case, screamingly painful slap on the back.

Once the fireworks had subsided, Finn had waved aside the Chief’s concern and got the two of them back into cover. Explanations had been quick and quiet and, despite the hair-raising night spent hiding in an emptied water tank, Jackson was in relatively sound shape.

No bites. Harry had checked on that, right off.

Now the Chief stood watch with Vera and one of the radios, tuned to the ‘Squiggle with two dots’ channel and Finn was on his way back to deliver the good news and second radio to the others. He strode down the hall, wondering what kind of intell they might have gleaned while he was streetside when the floor disappeared.

Originally posted on 1 December 2007 by Harry Finn

T’Shaini watched as Javier examined his ravaged appearance in the glass of the car door. Wanting to go to him, but knowing that her presence would simply exacerbate his feelings of frustration she stayed where she was. I would be going to reassure myself as much, if not more than him…do not be selfish.

The pressure on her chest was not easing, the more she looked at him the worse it felt. Absentmindedly rubbing the heel of her hand over it she thought of the rest of the teams. Please let them survive and understand the signal. “Khev is still out there…”

I doubt this person who contacted me is going to leave the task of infecting everyone to me."

“Was he speaking to you through the suit when we were in the corridor?” Well, that would explain his behavior. But instead of answering her, he locked the helmet into place and strode away. ow

Two minutes, I get two minutes to sulk then I move forward. She slunk over behind the vehicle and slid down the wall to crouch between some stacked boxes. Curling into a ball she pressed her forehead onto her knees and pulled herself in tight. In far less than the bargained for two minutes she began to lose patience with herself…wallowing clearly was not for her.

Sliding her legs out in front of her she looked around at her chosen hiding place. Curiosity pulling her, she lifted up on her knees to run her hands over the unfamiliar characters across the top of the box nearest her as if it would help her decipher it. Deciding she had nothing to lose by investigating further she pried open the top of the box and peered in.

It was filled with small devices that looked as if you could set time on them. Hmmm. By no means a munitions expert, T’Shaini was unsure what they might be, but she knew someone, or two someones that would. Palming one of the objects, she then reached into the car and grabbed the 9mm that Harry had given her earlier, I am NOT going to be stupid enough to walk unarmed again, and jogged by Jillian on her way out. “I am going to find Harry, I will return shortly.”

Not waiting for an acknowledgement she loped toward the corridor. Brilliant, I brought a weapon, why could I not have thought to bring some means of illumination. Too eager to continue in some course of action to return she slowed her pace somewhat as she made her way toward the office.

She hesitated when she reached the section of pathway where she had previously encountered Javier. In the dim light she could make out the evidence of his more recent passage. Boxes thrown in anger or frustration. She took a step back as a picture of what he must be experiencing reverberated within her and her heels met….nothing.

Teetering a moment on the brink she waved her arms frantically trying to regain her balance then pitched, bottom first, into the deep.

Originally posted on 1 December 2007 by T'Shaini

Camenze wiped blood from face as, with the other hand, she simultaneously cleaned the blade of her weapon on her pant leg. She looked at the building in front of her and could see both groups, the Captain in the building and the medical group on the ground, but could not hear what was being said. But, she got the point of the problem and realized getting "up" with her crew might be the best solution. For the twentieth time since losing her comm badge she tried to tap it.

"Uggg!" she said exasperatedly.

"Oggguuurrr" said something behind her.

"You have got to be, " Her blade sliced though the air, separating yet another head from another body. "kidding me!"

The body twitched and fell, the head rolling toward her foot. She stabbed it under the jaw and strung it onto the rope of heads she was dragging with her.

"There, even dozen." She looked back at her sword. "Oh, damn, I just cleaned that!" She looked up and saw two more bodies lurching toward her. She swung quickly, severing both heads in three blows. The first head had come off easily, the second had not quite cut though and had hung off to the side, requiring and another cut. "Sloppy, kid!" She said to herself.

What some people don't know is it actually takes a lot of force to separate a humanoid head from a body. Heads are made to stay on bodies and so it takes more force to separate them than might be thought when first considering it. Camenze had two things going for her in with this problem. One, she had aways helped at harvest time back home, cutting the thick steams of rarruor stalks with a clean sweeping motion. Beheading dead things was much the same.

And, two, it was easier because they were mostly rotten.

She added the "new" heads to the rope. She had realized soon after she had started swinging away that the creatures would not cross over the bodies of the fallen. For some reason they were so distracted by the severed heads they stopped to stare/play with them. So, as Camenze made her way forward, the string of severed heads that dragged behind her kept her from being sunk up on.
Plus, who doesn't like a trophy?

She shook her head again, wondering if at some point she would remember how she got there and where she had been, knowing the blow to her head that had been swelling for the last few hours might have something to do with it. Oh, well, she was here now and ready to play. The docs could take care of the rest later.

Looking at the building she developed a plan. If she could get over there she could at least place her string of heads by the entrance to stop more icky things from entering the building, giving the crew here a better chance at clearing the stairway, and giving them, and her, a chance to get to the top. She held the end of the rope and swung it over her shoulder, keeping her sword arm clear and started toward the building.

As she walked a song an old, short geologist at the academy, who specialized in gems in cave structures, used to sing came to her mind.

"Whistle while you work, Slice, de do do do do do do. Whack
Put on that grin, and start right in, to whistle loud and long!
Just hum a merry tune, hum mu mu mu mu mu mu! Ffummp
Just do your best and take a rest and sing yourself a song!"


Originally posted on 2 December 2007 by Camenze Taray

He splashed into the six inches of water that were sitting on the floor of the underground level after falling about two meters. Usually he would roll out of a fall like that to avoid shattering the bones in his legs but the suit had taken most of the shock and displaced it. Not bad, not bad at all, if this thing didn't come with being infected it would be nice to have one. Javier took a moment to get his bearings in the large room. Its size surprised him, it was larger than any of the rooms above ground level. The helmet had excellent nightvision so the pitch black darkness of the cavernous room didn't bother the suited engineer. He noticed at least three corridors branching off from the main area. In the water, at his calves, floated a conglomeration of trash consisting largely of paper and foodstuffs.

So there is or was food down here… he thought before something smashed into his shoulders and drove the engineer to the floor with its weight. What the..? *SMACK* The helmet hit the floor as he was pushed forward and down into the water and against the floor. Something cracked inside the helmet and pressed against his mouth.

It was a short drop but made up for the lack by being completely unexpected. Harry's feet hit something (one?) which collapsed beneath his weight and made his own landing spectacularly awkward. "Mother f**ker," he hissed, rolling off the lumpen mass and drawing Wynona as he rose. Aiming at the random black, he waited for some sound, some hint as to who or what was lurking in the wet blackness with him. Come on, move, give me a target.

The weight moved off of him, and from what felt like legs and straddlization, Javier deduced that someone had fallen through the trapdoor space. Who's riding me? I hope it's not Torrik..that would just be awkward. He stood to his feet and said, "Why don't you watch where you're going you lumbering ape?" knowing that the helmet would muffle the sound effectively. But the engineer heard his own voice rather clearly in the room.

"What..hang on.." he said, and explored the front of the helmet, nothing seemed out of place, it wasn't broken in any way. The inside felt pretty close to his mouth though almost as if a piece of foam was jammed against it. "Can you hear me?" he asked, looking and finding that Harry Finn was the perpetrator of the unnecessary closeness they had shared.

Costala… figured. Harry kept the gun ready, "The lumbering ape can hear you just fine.. and who's the idiot who left the floor open?" He'd feel a lot better if he could see…

Javier looked up at the hole in the 'ceiling' which was suddenly blacked out by a familiar sight. Many times in the past, he had found himself staring at this particular sight. So it wasn't hard to figure out what or who was coming towards him. The engineer stepped back a half pace, held out his arms and braced his legs then caught T'Shaini.

"Eep." A ridiculously girly noise squeaked from T'Shaini as her fall abruptly ended in an embrace. "Javier?"


"Harry?" Well at least she found both men she was looking for. Relieved, she disregarded his earlier attempts at avoidance and wrapped her arms around Javier's neck…well the suit…but close enough.

Finn sighed, "Well, hell, who else is gonna fall down the rabbit hole?"

"Rabbit hole? I think that one was made by the people who lived here…ah, yeah," Javier said, realizing that Harry was comparing their fall to something other than who constructed the hole in the floor. The engineer looked around the room, eyes searching for a panel that would illuminate the room. He couldn't see anything on the walls that would indicate a power switch or control panel. Maybe there's one in the other corridors? the engineer figured.

"We're going for a walk, hang on," he told T'Shaini, seeing no need to release her. He was in the suit. She was safe. She was also in his arms and he found their closeness comforting. "I'm trying to find the lights down here," Javier explained. He waded through the water and looked down the first corridor. It seemed to run a long way into the distance. Next one. he thought and waded over to the second corridor. Along its walls were six or seven doors, spaced evenly on either side of the hallway. "Nothing in there." he said then hugged T'Shaini closer as he shifted his hold. He walked over to the last corridor. There were steps going upward and Javier followed them until he came to the top step and a barricaded door.

"That's fine," Harry called to the distant splashes, "don't mind me, I'll just… you know… hang out here… in the pitch black…" he suddenly recalled the radio he'd been carting, which had fallen somewhere in the surrounding wet, shit. "If that thing's broken, Costala, I swear…." but then, what do you threaten a guy with once he's been bitten by zombies? "Shit." He started running his foot through the wet, trying to find the fallen radio.

"I'm setting you down on the top step," he told the counselor as he lowered her to the floor. Then guided her hand to the nearest wall. "I need to explore here a bit," Javier explained as he turned back to the barricaded door. The barricade had been fashioned from metallic beams and furniture and was piled up in a jumble of weight almost as if the bunkers occupants had thrown whatever they could find up against the door to block it off. Digging through the pile carefully so as not to disturb anything or cause an avalanche of debris to slide down the stairs, Javier found a panel near the doorway. He stretched his arm out and flipped a switch with the tips of his fingers. Light flooded into the corridor and others areas from long bulbs set in the top of the walls.

Biting back a pang of disappointment as her feet hit the floor, Do not be ridiculous, you are perfectly capable of walking on your own, she suddenly realized that she had heard his voice…and the helmet was on. Blinking as her eyes became accustomed to the sudden glare she glanced around the room before returning her gaze to Javier. "Were you looking for something in particular? And how is it I am able to hear your voice?"

"Yeah," Finn called out, shaking off the dripping radio and sloshing his way over to the others, "inquiring apes want to know."

"When Harry fell on me, he must have jarred something loose inside my helmet," Javier replied as he turned back to her. He took a moment to wipe a smudge of dirt off of T'Shaini's cheek. Now that he could communicate with her he felt more like himself and keeping the suit intact had considerably lessened the pain he was feeling from the virus. "Let's see what this level has to offer…the people who lived here went to alot of trouble to conceal whatever is down here so it must be important," the engineer suggested.

Harry had achieved a comforting static with his handheld, "Hold that thought," he requested, raising the speaker, "Jackson, this is Finn, do you copy?"


"Jackson, Finn… over." No go. He threw Costala a look. "Maybe we should find a ladder, in case we ever want to leave?" Now that the lights were on, at least the manhole would be well lit: no one else ought to fall through.

"Oh," T'Shaini suddenly remember why she had come in search of them in the first place. Pressed tight within her hand was still the device she could not identify. Stretching her arm out she unrolled her fingers to present it. "I found a crate filled with these, I thought perhaps they had something to do with detonating an explosive, but I do not have the knowledge to identify them."

Javier took the explosives from T'Shaini very gingerly. They were detonaters, but each still held the small amount of explosive material needed to detonate an explosive compound "From now on you have to promise me you won't run around holding anything you're not familiar with," Javier said as he looked at the detonater caps.

She looked up and down the suited version of Javier as one eyebrow quirked upward. "I am assuming that does not include you."

"'s just you could have blown your arms off if you had landed on the floor wrong," the former marine said. "Lets look around..for a..uh..ladder."

Harry realized he'd been staring at Costala. "Let's take the two open corridors, first," he looked to Wendy, "Lieutenant, want to watch my six? I think Batman can handle a recon on his own… as long as there's no more trap doors to leave open." He smiled at that, sort of.

"Yes, yes of course." T'Shaini was not certain why Harry seemed intent on pulling her away, but he was correct, Javier could certainly handle himself.

"I think that will work," Javier replied, not appreciating how Harry had split the teams but T'Shaini seemed okay with it. "Look out for creatures, I'd hate for you to get bitten..then you'd wind up like me," the engineer pointed out, "waiting for your friends to kill you, knowing that at some point they can't trust you anymore." His tone was scathing as he looked from T'Shaini to Harry, then withdrew the two swords and moved past them down the steps. He splashed through the water angrily.

T'Shaini sat down hard on the steps as her knees gave way beneath her. Resting her elbows on her knees she dragged her fingers through her hair and stared at the floor.

"You know, he was right, this place looks promising," Harry said, seemingly apropos of nothing. "Maybe while we look for that ladder we'll find some other useful stuff. You know, weapons, supplies… medicines." Finally he looked down, waiting for the dejected woman to meet his gaze, "There's a famous saying that I'm fond of, 'It ain't over til it's over.'" He offered the Vulcan a hand up, "Shall we?" and as the two followed in the fading wake left by Costala's departure, he made sure his weapon was at the ready.

Originally posted on 2 December 2007 by Javier Costala, T'Shaini, and Harry Finn.

Javier spun one of the baton swords absentmindedly as he stalked along the corridor he had chosen to explore. Harry Finn. The bastard. "Want to watch my six, Lieutenant?" Javier mimicked in a squeaky, irritating voice. "Want to scratch my back? Want to help kill your rot infested boyfriend?"

I should have shishkebabed him with you. the engineer thought as he brought the spinning blade to a halt and admired the glittering steel. He drew parallel to the first door in the hallway and smashed it open with his free hand. Javier stared at his gloved fist in surprise, then looked back at the door which had been crushed in and knocked off its hinges. The combat suit and virus were making him stronger. Forget cutting Finn, I'll just rip him a new asshole. the engineer thought smugly. He walked into the room. It was a small room full of bright shiny metal things. Javier liked shiny metal things, especially the shiny metal things that he could use to kill more creatures. He returned the baton sword to its clips on the back of the suit.

The engineer picked up twin pistols and some spare clips, he stored the projectile weapons in the holsters that came with the suit. The suit had come with its own set of snazzy looking pistols. "Oh wait? Who did I give those pistols to?" Javier asked himself in a tone dripping with irony, "I think it was Harry Finn. Why yes it was…good old Harry, maybe he'll try to shoot me with one. Wouldn't that be a bitch?" He stashed the spare magazines in the suits pockets then reached out and liberated an assault rifle from the metal rack it sat on.

Shoving a magazine into the receiver, Javier smiled as he heard it click into place. He brought the weapon up to his shoulder as he turned to point it toward the doorway. Javier liked the feel of the weapon, he liked the sights and he knew he would like the recoil. He grabbed some more mags, glanced around for a ladder, didn't find one and moved back out into the hallway. "Let's get tactical," he told himself, keeping the rifle's barrel pointed at the floor but leaving the stock against his shoulder so he could pull it up quickly and shoot.

The former marine from Delta Platoon worked his way down the hall, opening doors and searching for any signs of the creatures or a ladder. He found a barrack of sorts, with beds and stocked water and food supplies. Javier also found a couple more rooms of ordinance, some of it heavy stuff. As he came to the last room on the hallway Javier could hear moans coming through the door. Nice. he thought as the engineer kicked open the door then drew a bead on the creature in front of him. The thing had its back to him.

"Turn thee, Benvolio, look upon thy death," Javier quoted, remembering a favorite line that seemed appropriate for the moment. The creature turned to face him, moaning as it shuffled towards him.

<>Would you kill your brother?<> the Voice suddenly spoke.

Startled, Javier hesitated then tightened his grip on the barrel of the rifle and pulled the trigger. The sound of the weapon firing was loud in the closed area and echoed down the corridor. The round perforated the creature's skull and blew what remained of its brains out on the wall behind it.

"I'm not related to that thing," he retorted. Javier's eyes searched the small room, there was a bed and a chair, it was very frugal and looked somewhat like a cell.

<>No, you are unique. You are perfect.<> the Voice replied in a paternal tone. <>You are superior to any of those pathetic life-forms that you surround yourself with.<>

"You'll get no argument there Chief," Javier replied, still irritated at the way Finn and T'Shaini had treated him. "Who held this clusterf**k together on the last mission? Yours truly, that's who, but did I get any recognition? No way, just complaints. Javier, why didn't you tell Q to send us home? Javier, can't you fix the ship any faster? Javier, why don't you befriend the sulky science officer and move in the shuttle with him? Okay so that last one was all my idea.."

<>The one you adore. She is a lesser being.<>

"Don't talk about her," he said, then added, "she's better than me. She's..perfect."

<>She left you for the other one.<> the Voice said, a hint of implication in his tone.

"No, she just didn't want to…she just wasn't…she thought that…" the engineer started to reply but could not think of a satisfactory reason why T'Shaini had chosen to go with Harry. Why would she just leave me like that? the engineer thought over and over again as he returned to the main room. Eventually Harry and T'Shaini appeared, Javier held the barrel of the assault rifle on them.

<>Kill them.<> the Voice whispered to him seductively.

He slowly lowered the barrel of the rifle. "You scared me," Javier told them. "Got one creature back there," he informed the two, nodding back towards the corridor he had explored, "I guess it made me sort of jumpy. I didn't find a ladder though, just some supplies and quite a stock of weapons." The engineer hefted the rifle. "I outfitted myself. Can't be too careful around here with all the folks that want to put a bullet in me," he said and laughed unpleasantly.

**Originally posted on 3 December 2007 by Harry Finn. **

:: Halcyon ::
:: “The Batcave” ::

The comm station seemed to be whirring and beeping just as it should’ve been, but there were bands of interference that bothered Nils intensely. There was little doubt that his message had been sent, but according to what he was seeing there were more messages bounding around in Halcyon’s atmosphere. But the equipment was just archaic enough to make localizing and identifying comm traffic absolutely impossible.

“Alright…that’s it…” he said shoving himself away from the console. “Someone give me a damned tricorder.”

“Here,” said Jillian intent on her own work. “We were about to test it out, but I’ll let you be the guinea pig.”

“I don’t see the harm in switching it on,” Nils said crossing to grab the device from her hand. “Especially considering Costala’s revelation that their leader already knows we’re here. I see nothing but benefits,” he added finally flipping the device open.

Feeling the cool metal composite beneath his fingers again brought a sense of comfort that the Bajoran was unaware he was capable of. The dreary setting and dire circumstances suddenly seemed not only more tolerable, but completely manageable.

“Alright, then,” he said through a smile.

The first thing he did was scan for a neurogenic field. Informing his actions through theory was beginning to wear thin. Nils needed data to confirm his suspicions, which he got readily. A massive field, unlike anything he’d ever studied enveloped the entire area, and probably the entire planet. And just as he’d surmised, the tricorder created a rather consequential ripple in the field.

“I knew it,” he muttered quietly, in a moment of inner jubilation.

The next item up for scan was where the zombies had got off to. The quiet and calm they’d experienced in the wake of such lasting violence felt more like a calm before the storm than a refuge.

Aside for a few anomalous individuals, Nils found that the vast majority of Halcyon’s resident monstrosities were gathering approximately 4 kilometers to the southeast. In fact, it looked as though the entire population was either there or on their way there.

“What…is that?”

The puzzle became primary in Nils thoughts. Something had changed since their arrival. The lumbering beasts’ random attacks had completely shifted to what appeared to be a concerted effort.

“But an effort to do what…” Nils turned back to Jillian. “Can I borrow your medical tricorder?”

“Sure, but what…” she started before he rudely interrupted. The science officer was driven by his compulsion to know.

“Your equipment is more sensitive than standard issue. I can use the two tricorders in tandem to get a better resolution at greater distance,” he said, already linking the two devices matrices.

Moments later a stream of baffling information began scrolling across his screen. The number of zombies converging on the spot he’d discovered was nothing other than massive. Hundreds of thousands of the creatures were massed, and judging from his telemetry, deep into construction of …something.

“I’m reading simple metallic alloys, a lot of heat; energy usage is off the scale for a civilization at this level of development… Atmospheric composition in that area is already altered from what it was when he beamed down. Increased carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane… I think they’re building something.”

“You think the zombies are building something?” Jillian asked, clearly unconvinced.

“It’s not inconceivable. We know they’re guided by some sort of singular intelligence. At least we think we know that…” A sudden thought jerked Nils' attention back to the comm station.

“Costala said this intelligence can communicate with the suit he has on… That indicates that the neurogenic field can be processed and translated via artificial means,” he theorized as he began working on the Starfleet devices and the Halcyon communicator. “Your medical tricorder is designed to pick up and analyze neurogenic energy. If I can use the standard device to tap into the field, and yours to interpret it, we might be able to hear a little bit of what those zombies are thinking. Or at least what the intelligence behind their thoughts wants them to be thinking…"

Time stretched out as Nils worked. Coaxing anything coherent from the bands of interference bouncing around the atmosphere was a job best left for an Operations officer. Fortunately, Nils had taken that post rather seriously on board Sentinel.

"I've got…something…" Static and moaning high pitched feedback echoed through the cavern as Nils tried to clean up the signal. He adjusted the output of the medical tricorder to more accurately feed telemetry to his own device, which he'd just decided to keep.

*static* pathetic life-forms that you surround yourself with.<> *static* <>sterilization<> *static* <>kill them<> *static*

"Looks like our resident zombie king has a lot of irons in the fire, so to speak. I've got imbedded signals bouncing all over this field. Trying to localize on the area where the zombies are gathering…"

*static* <>my children… <>*static* <> sterilize the stars… <>*static* <> our own fleet…<> *static* <>construct the vessels of purification<> *static*

Cold dread wracked Nils' insides. As he put the pieces of communication together they painted a horrifying prospect. "I don't even want to say out loud what I think that means…" he mumbled. "It can't mean that…"

Suddenly the crackle of static cleared up and the booming voice of the ordered entity filled the cavern.

<>You are marked for sterilization. My first born will cleanse you all.<>

The tricorders went wild with warning klaxons as an energy surge built up in the equipment.

"Get down," called Nils as he dove at Jillian driving her to the floor. The communication console expanded in a flash of white light and fire, showering the room with metallic shrapnel.

Originally posted on 2 December 2007 by Torrik Nils

They will never be your friends the Security Handbook According to Finn reverberated through his brain as Harry led the way to the second corridor you will be invisible until you are needed and when you are needed you'll be the one that will have to do the dirty jobs; you will have a split-second to make life or death decisions; you will have to live, eat and breath suspicion and that guarantees they will never be your friends. "Door," he said, waiting for the counselor to come even with him, in front of the closed portal.

Trying to focus on the task ahead was difficult for T'Shaini. "Do you think we should have stayed with him?"

Not having any good answer, Harry ignored the question, gripped the door's handle in his right hand and lifted the pistol in his left. Slowly, he turned the knob which did, in fact, open the door. A quick look found the room empty of unlife so he entered and began to look around. "Lot's of boxes," he noted, walking through the narrow chamber. Either side was covered in shelves and all the shelves were packed tight with plastic containers.

Noting his avoidance of her question, T'Shaini tried to shake off the guilt of her seeming abandonment and started to examine the containers. Cautiously she lifted the corner of what she deemed the least likely to explode and took a look. "Harry, I believe these are medical supplies."

"Great, anything labeled, 'Cure - administer in the event of zombie bites?'" Finn asked and immediately regretted his sarcasm. "Probably not. Okay, let's leave this for Slugger and Sleeping Beauty," he paused as they headed towards the door, "How is Slugger.. I mean, Munro… how's she doing?" He hadn't noticed anything unusual about the doctor's behavior, earlier, but it had been a couple of hours…

"I do not know, I have not spoken to her, other than to inform her that I was looking for you." Something else to regret. "I am certain she will be grateful for whatever refurbrishing of her med kit that we may be able to do."

A crackle from the radio Finn had placed on his hip broke into the non-conversation.

"Score one for the away team," Harry said, lifting the device, >Jackson, Finn. Go ahead<

In other words, were a pack of screaming undead about to pour up from the depths. Harry watched T'Shaini wander out the door, concern dripping from every pore, >Negative that. We happened upon a local cache… the hideout's storage, looks like… we just need to get us a ladder and< at that he stopped, almost hit himself in the head but stopped before he beaned himself with a six-shooter. "I know where the ladder is," he said, as his brain finally kicked into gear. >Jackson, go check the front office door, where it's been shored up… I think you'll find what we need, Finn out<

T'Shaini waited for Harry to catch up to her before speaking. "The radio is still functioning I see…hear." She adjusted the container in her arms. "Did you say there was a ladder upstairs in the office?"

"Pretty sure, yeah." He glanced up the hallway, gestured towards the next door, "Look at the evidence," he said, "They had a barricade down here, indicating an attack coming from the tunnel. Even with all hell breaking loose topside, being trapped down here would be worse and," he paused before the door, "we haven't found any indication of serious action, down here which implies they made their last stand up top." Not that it had worked out too well for them. "So they haul ass outta the basement, pull the ladder up with them and use it where it's needed most."

"Yes, that would be logical." Focus still elsewhere, her tone was so dry that it sounded mechanical. "Perhaps we should take these back up to Jillian…" She clutched the bin a little tighter to her body. "and see if we can reconnect with Javier en route."

And didn't that sound like fun? He re-hitched the radio to the gun belt and considered the Vulcan, "Maybe you're right," he concluded, "and, who knows? There might be something down here that could help him and the doc. Besides," he said, turning back towards the half-drowned main chamber, "I'd like to check with Torrik and Marc, see if they've come up with any useful intel." Intel which could lead to a target. What he wouldn't give for a hard target.

Ohhh. "You were not in the room. Javier has been contacted by…some higher intelligence, through the suit. They know where we are," She exhaled a breath as Javiers words replayed in her head. "and They are looking for Captain Benjamin."

"Dammit!" he halted mid-stride and turned on her, "That should have been the first piece of information that came out of your mouth.. or his mouth, mask… whatever." Disgust had him pounding the nearest wall, "That contact is the only shred of hard intelligence we've gotten and more than that… more than anything else, it means your boyfriend has been compromised. He's a risk to the entire team…"

"I am sorry…" Her voice, though low, was cold enough to stop him mid thought. "are you insinuating that I was deliberately withholding information for some personal reason?"

"I'm saying you're not thinking straight… you have a brain; it'd be really swell if you put aside your personal issues for five minutes and used it."

T'Shaini very carefully put the medical supplies on the floor beside her. Standing to face Harry she pulled herself up straight. "I want to be very clear about this, I think you should know better than to question whether I am putting personal issues ahead of thinking logically." Really, of all the people to challenge her about personal issues. "It is not as if he tried to hide what he heard, the first thing that he chose to do was to tell everyone on team. Just because you were not in the room at the moment does not make it suspect." I will not make the observation that just because someone he loved betrayed him he thinks it will happen to everyone else.

"He won't take off the mask," Harry asserted quietly, "Can you tell me that doesn't con…"

Both froze at the sound of a single shot, fired nearby.

Ignoring the box of supplies T'Shaini sprinted toward the sound, drawing her 9mm as she turned the corner.

Shit! "Will you wait?" but of course that was a stupid question. Pounding after, Finn made use of the radio, >Jackson, Finn, do NOT drop that ladder, we have shots fired… wait for sitrep…<

Almost there.

Skidding as she rounded the corner, T'Shaini was brought up short by the sight of an assault rifle aimed directly at her. Breathing a sigh of relief at his undamaged appearance she lowered her weapon.

Harry caught up with a seemingly frozen T'Shaini and slid to her front, weapon raising even as the foreboding figure that was Costala began to lower his brand-new toy. He didn't say anything, didn't move… almost forgot to breathe.

"You scared me," Javier told them. "Got one creature back there," he informed the two, nodding back towards the corridor he had explored, "I guess it made me sort of jumpy. I didn't find a ladder though, just some supplies and quite a stock of weapons." The engineer hefted the rifle. "I outfitted myself. Can't be too careful around here with all the folks that want to put a bullet in me," he said and laughed unpleasantly.

Riiiiight Deep breath's, Finn told himself. >Jackson, Finn, we are clear<

But once again, the only reward was static. It had worked just fine, back in the corridor. Away from Costala. Away from that suit.

Originally posted on 3 December 2007 by T'Shaini and Harry Finn

The exploding consoles sounded like firecrackers. Jillian ducked her head and pulled Nolan close to her, Nils, who took a flying leap from where he had been standing, wrapped an arm around Jillian's waist, pulling her and Nolan to the floor. He spread his body over them as a volley of fire pellets and glass rained over them. Jillian winced as she listened to the sound of sparks burning through cloth and sizzling their way into Nils' skin. Glass ricocheted off the floor, just inches away from their faces.

Jillian's eardrums hurt. Her body was trembling and so was Nolan, who was still shielded beneath her.

Then, as suddenly as it had come, it was gone. A hush of silence hung in the air. So strange and eerie, as if the whole world had stopped to listen. As he raised himself, Nils' eyes fell on the mess that surrounded them, "Dammit!", he screamed. Nils took a deep breath and closed his eyes, reopening them slowly, "Everyone okay?"

Jillian nodded and looked over at Nolan, "You alright, little guy?", she asked as she brushed some glass that was stuck to his hair, "And what about you, Doctor Boom?", she said, looking up at Nils, "You OK?"

"I'm fine." Nils muttered. He began digging around in the debris, searching for the two invaluable tricorders.

"You said something…before the explosion…" Jillian tried to recall. Nils gave no response. He just kept on digging.

Nolan coughed to clear his throat, "He said, 'It can't mean that…'"

Jillian turned towards Nolan and nodded, "Right."

Nils gave no response.

She walked over to Nils and shook his shoulder, "Talk to me!" Nils stopped in his tracks, stood up straight, towering over Jillian. He swallowed, his unblinking eyes staring directly into Jillian's with the coldest expression she had ever seen a man wear.

Originally posted on 3 December 2007 by Jillian Munro

"We scared you?" T'Shaini put away the 9mm. "The shot we heard…we thought…I thought…" She broke off not wanting to voice the scenario that had flashed through her head while she was running.

Took them long enough to get out here. Must have not been too worried.. Javier thought, then brushed his own mental insinuation aside. "You thought someone snuck up on ol' Javier and shot him?" he asked, then said, "Not likely, Javier's senses have been altered by the virus. I doubt anyone could get the drop on him now," the engineer finished, his tone one of humor with a hint of malevolence. "Anyway, did either of you find a ladder?"

Brushing aside the question in her concern, T'Shaini stepped closer to him. "What was it that we heard? Was there someone down here?"

"One of the lesser creatures," Javier answered, not realizing the terminology he had made use of. "It looked like that had him in a cell..I wonder why. I popped the door open and gave him something to think about," he explained, using marine jargon for a head shot. My brother? Why did the Voice call him my brother? The other infected have never been called one of my immediate family. Why that one? He turned and started to walk away from the other two, but stopped to look back at T'Shaini. "Come on, I'll show you."

"You found a cell? Interesting, this may be more developed that we first perceived. Yes, I would like to see. Harry?" Finn just shook his head, so she turned to follow Javier. "Lesser creature? What is that?"

"You know, one of those mindless creatures.." he replied, leading the way towards the corridor, "like the ones that attacked you. Lesser. No higher brain functions. No control. Just lower on the chain."

A frown creased T'Shaini's forehead as she followed him. "Than us? Well, once they were not so." She recalled the portrait of the family she had seen in the office. "What made you chose those words?"

Javier started to answer but he found there was a more pressing question on his mind. The Voice's insinuation had been eating at him. The fully suited engineer stopped abruptly and turned to face her. "What made you go with Finn? Am I missing something here?"

Completely taken aback at the abrupt change T'Shaini shook her head in confusion. "I…he asked me to, and pointed out that you were well able to take care of yourself." She reached out and brushed her fingers down the side of his helm as if to touch his face. "Which, clearly…you are."

"Stop dodging the question," he said as his hand reached out and clasped her arm and held it away so she couldn't touch him. "Did you go because you're afraid of me? Or is there something else?"

"If I were afraid of you, would I be alone with you now?"

"Then it's something else.." Javier released T'Shaini's arm. He was hoping it had been because she was afraid. He moved back and leaned against the corridor wall. The hallway seemed to shrink in on him. The Voice had been right. "I..when?"

It is the virus…the pain must be confusing things. "When, what?"

The ceiling shuddered as an explosion shook the area above them. "The others!" he said, all thought of T'Shaini's choices put aside. Javier pushed past T'Shaini and ran back towards the main area. A ladder had been pushed down the hole and he slung the rifle around to his back and leaped for the rungs. His jump took him further than expected and the engineer found himself clinging to the second rung from the top. Surprised but still worried about the rest of the team he scrambled out of the hole and took off running.

"Out of the way!" Javier yelled as he unslung the weapon as he overtook Finn and Jackson. Checking the corners as he entered the smoke-filled room, the engineer spotted the wrecked console. He also saw that Torrik, Munro, Marc and L'mek, aside from some scratches, were unharmed.

Below ground, in an abandoned hallway the still form of T'Shaini lay forgotten, a telling smear on the wall the only testament to the strength which had left her insensate.

Originally Posted on 3 December 2007 by T'Shaini and Javier Costala

The only intel that Sleeping Beauty was gathering concerned the interior of his eyelids. In the course of a normal day Nolan had easily three or more times the energy of any of them, even running circles around the Vulcans, but the reverse of that juvenile metabolism was that it tended to exhaust itself. Particularly when engaged in continual activity. He'd been doing backflips, somersaults, flying scissor kicks, and busting heads with guitars ever since the away team arrived. At a certain point the physical reality of not having any anabolic hormones was going to catch up with him. And he'd passed that long before he'd collapsed into Jillian's lap.

So when she tried to shake him awake, the doctor might have thought he was a zombie. Bobbing back and forth like a rag doll in her arms, Nolan opened his eyes but the expression was completely blank. And as soon as she'd stopped shaking him, he'd buried his head against her and muttered something about five more minutes. Then when she and Nils began moving around, he'd just curled up on the floor. But then he lost the warm lap factor, which caused him to rise to a level of consciousness sufficient to try and seek out another warm body that wasn't babbling or moving about. He even briefly considered curling up against L'mek when he heard Nils remark, "It can't mean that…"

There was just something about Nils' tone at that moment which registered with Nolan. It hadn't exactly been any kind of warning of all, but the way in which he'd said it had been like shouting oh, shit! and Nolan knew through the exhausted haze that he needed to be kissing his butt goodbye.

Then Jillian suddenly leapt on top of him.

Then Nils tackled them both like a football linebacker.

And then the world was on fire. Not like the Sarah McLachlan song at all though. Definitely more of a black metal or alternative grunge soundtrack to it. Aside from having been scooted across the floor (under the weight of two people who not - in his opinion - very light) nearly ten feet, the boy found his sense of hearing dumbed as he fought his way from under the pile of When Harry Tackled Sally to stagger around as he tried to clear the ringing from his ears.

"Alright, alright, alright… I'm up!" the child barked in a jovial attitude that was partially forced and partially because the combination of temporary sensory deprivation and physical exhaustion had him feeling drunk. Taking two shaky steps forward, Nolan found himself slipping down onto his knees. Coordination? What coordination? Getting back upright seemed a somewhat more complicated process than it ought to have otherwise been. "Yeah… that alarm clock totally sucks," the boy mumbled as he gathered his legs underneath himself and staggered forward again, only to almost collide with Wombat-Man.

The room had an odd habit of moving on him, there were several multi-color spots that he was fairly certain were making faces at him, and he had this dreadful suspicion that the pink elephants weren't all that far behind.

"You alright, little guy?" Jillian's voice brought Nolan around to gaze at… well, at the moment there were three of her. So he tried to focus on the middle one. That tended to be the correct one.

"Heeeellllllloooooo nurse!" Nolan chirped brightly, with an almost inebriated slur. Bags had already formed under his eyes, which were now bloodshot from the adrenaline, exhaustion, and dust flying through the air. Of course, Jillian wasn't a nurse type. She was a medical type personnage. "Or greetings and samu… salmon… salu.. Uhh, Hail doc type!" the boy stammered in a happy drunk fashion. Of course, he wasn't a happy drunk.

As he fumbled his way through what had been intended as Charlotte's famed greeting, Nolan realized that Jillian was attempting to recall what Nils had said. Which was easily on the tip of his mind, since Nolan (or rather Lien) could always identify just how deep in the shit they were based on the inflections in Nils voice. It was a trait he got from the first Marc host. And had irritated the hell out of Lorna's husband and children. Nolan coughed to clear his throat, "He said, 'It can't mean that…'"

And with that, a self-satisfied Nolan stuck out an arm as he went to lean up against the wall. Which was about the time that he realized he wasn't standing next to one. It was just as well. The floor really was more comfortable that it otherwise looked.

Originally posted on 4 December 2007 by Nolan Marc.

“Can't be too careful around here with all the folks that want to put a bullet in me."

Harry held himself very, very still as Costala spoke. He had to because he was sure that if he moved at all, he’d be firing the very bullet the mask was talking about and he wouldn’t stop firing until the younger man was nothing but a sodden puddle of humanity.

So he didn’t move.

Instead he kept seeing, in his mind’s eye, T’Shaini as she halted in the chamber, pistol lowered and wide open to the weapon Costala had been aiming… aiming and, because Finn had been in the game long enough to read the signs, fully prepared to fire. She would’ve been shredded to ribbons and he could see that, too. Too clearly he could see it.

In response his own hand had been well on the way to making the same decision.

And now he couldn’t, for all that here they were, having a nice chat, ease off the trigger.

“Javier's senses have been altered by the virus. I doubt anyone could get the drop on him now."

Ow, am I bleeding? But he couldn’t say that, couldn’t say anything. He was working too hard at keeping the pistol pointed down, at loosening his finger on the trigger.

The finger, which may at this point know more than Harry, wasn’t having any. The finger wanted to survive and it needed the rest of the body on board to accomplish that.

So it was that when conversation turned to the dead dead guy in a cell, and Wendy had asked him to come, all he could do was shake his head. A thousand warnings were screaming for attention but he was fighting his own body and trying to find his instincts and put a muzzle on the blind panic that was thrashing around for attention.

It wasn’t until the two had disappeared into the corridor that he could even take a real breath and that, dammit, hurt like hell, too.

At least it got his mind off the trigger finger, which finally, finally, eased off.

Another stupidly deep breath as he raised the once again functioning, once again away from the suit, radio >Jackson, it’s Finn. We’re… all clear. Let ‘er down.<

In moments he was topside, reporting the discovery, the gunshots and the current disposition of the Lieutenant and Costala. Jackson was about to drop down for a look when a sudden concussion reverberated down the hallway.

“The Batcave,” Finn hissed, as he and Jackson turned towards the source of the blast. They were almost to the wide entrance when…

“Out of my way!”

The two barely made a hole before they were trammeled by the armed-to-the-teeth ex-Marine. Even so, Harry hip-checked the wall and in the rush and frustration, didn’t notice that radio got knocked from the belt.

“Who was that masked man?” the Chief asked on cue as they followed to the scene of what appeared to be a science experiment gone horribly wrong.

“That’s… that’s Costala,” Finn admitted, staring at the clearly concerned actions of the engineer. Noted the general lack of undead carnage and body parts.

And yet… he turned to look back at the corridor.

“Where’s Wendy?”

Even as the thought hit he was running. He hit the trap and slid downladder, splashing to the floor of the lower depths. “Wendy!” he called out but there was no answer. Not a sound beyond his feet moving in the stale water. “T’Shaini!”

It took little time to reach the hallway she’d been exploring with Costala and it looked like they’d only gone a short way.

He could tell because he came upon her, limp and unconscious and bleeding, only a few meters into the hall.

“Dammit,” he whispered, crouching down to check her pulse, which was present, and eyeballed the green-tinted dampness on the wall before he sat down next to her, “No one ever listens to me.”

Originally posted on 4 December 2007 by Harry Finn.

Above Halcyon, in the airship Killdeer :.

Pev awoke on the deck of the zeppelin feeling refreshed. He had spent nearly two hours in the darkness above Halcyon; first finding something to stand on, then attempting to learn the controls of the big balloon. After a series of trial maneuvers, the S'ti'ach was able to keep the thing moving in a large circular orbit, and allowed himself the opportunity to doze off and recharge.

Now, as dawn broke over the wasted city, the Hawking's XO once again climbed into the chair and examined the controls. The ship was coming around from the edge of the river, the city proper below him. From this distance, he could he several of the zombie corpses still littering the streets, and decided it was high time to try and locate the rest of the party.

While he'd been hard at work deciphering the primitive means of transport, a coded signal had come across his comm badge from Torrik. While he was no cryptologist, and hadn't had the time or the means to write the message down and attempt to decipher it, it did mean two things. One, the former Sentinel officer was still alive, and two, somehow he had been able to receive the transmission. Here, above the marauding undead, that might prove to be quite important. Even if the creatures were somehow homing in on the Hawking crew's technology, they had no way to reach him up here. And though he hadn't been able to turn his mind towards communicating with the Hawking, he had been thinking quite a bit about energy, thermodynamics, and the application of the transferrence of energy.

=^= Pev to away team. Anyone capable please respond. =^=

Nothing…nothing…nothing…there. Captain Benjamin, on a rooftop, with Vince Stryfe. On the ground: Tatiana, Trann, and the other female crewman Pev didn't recognize.

Only, what was Nathan doing with that zombie?

Originally posted on 4 December 2007 by Pev

Meanwhile in the bat cave:.

L’mek was still sitting tiring to read the things on the computer when he heard the computer spouting the things his communicator say more or less. Then say

"It can't mean that…"

then Dr. Munro shifted a bit before the consoles Nills where working on spark up and explode. In a flash of light and pain to his face as he tried to duck L’mek noticed Dr. Munro cover the small officer Nolan Marc. L’mek felt envious at that moment of surprise he could only protect himself, but she could protect others by instinctively throwing herself in harms way. Then when all was said and done he was cut on the underside of the left arm.

After the explosion Nills searched franticly for the tricorders that where probably trashed in the explosion. Then the young officer in almost a drunken stupor stood up and told his fellow Sentinel crewmember what the computer said. Since she was asking Nills so adamantly. Then in the same stupor he fell back on the floor.

L’mek stood there thinking that maybe he wasn’t the most exhausted one there. Finally science broke out as everyone stood there looking at Costala burst into the room and find the explosion that rocked the room only moments earlier.

Finally L’mek broke the silence. “Nills, theoretically is it possible to combine the universal translator of a communicator and my tricorder to read the words on that screen that Dr. Munro and myself have been looking at?”

Then he pulled the Medical tricorder out of his medical bag. “I have half of what we need.” he put it back into the bag and pulled out a hypospray and stuck Dr. munro in the neck. As she looked at him in what looked like a stare of anger and surprise L’mek spoke before she could ask.” It’s only to keep your burned hand from getting infected. You know as well as I do that burns are easily infected so that is a prophylactic to keep that from happening.” then he looked back at Nills. “ So is it possible?”

Originally posted on 4 December 2007 by L'mek.

"No one ever listens to me.”

Latching on to the words she could hear off in the distance T'Shaini pulled herself back into the present. Eyes still closed, she waved one hand at Harry stalling for time to get the words in her head to come out her mouth.

"Hey," the wave was reassuring but the pale cold look on her face was not, "You in there?" Damning himself for leaving her alone with Costala, he took hold of the speaking hand. "Wendy, I'm sorry…"

She took a deep breath to clear some of the pain from her head before opening her eyes. Oh no, one more thing for him to feel responsible for. "No, there is no blame to be assigned." She used his grip on her hand to pull herself to a seated position. "And it is not what you are thinking, he ran past me when we heard the explosion…" Oh gods, how had she forgotten about that. "Was anyone hurt?"

"Just you," he muttered, one hand on her back, she still looked shaky. "Torrik took some flak, looked like," he amended, "but everyone was standing and in one piece when…" he stopped, replayed the scene in his head, saw the black figure that was Costala- armed to the teeth - racing into a room of shocked and defenseless people, "… not what I was thinking?" he switched mental channels on the counselor. "You're sure?" Even so, he reached for the radio, intending to warn Jackson and cursed anew when his hand slid past the spot where the device had been hanging.

In that moment, more than any other since his return to Starfleet, he wished his brother had left him in that wet gutter, drinking himself to death. One less screwup in the universe.

"Yes I am sure." T'Shaini put her other hand on top of their clasped ones. "He pushed to get past me on his way back to the others, I surmise the combination of the suit and the virus is making him preternaturally strong." Pushing herself to her feet she narrowed her eyes and looked over Harry's shoulder. "I believe the body in the cave may hold some clue in the search for an antidote. There has to be some reason he was kept confined, separate from the others, I would like to see if there are medical supplies specific to that area and take a tissue sample for Jillian." Her mouth twisted up in a semblance of a smile. "Would you care to assist me?"

"Not that that's not a spiffy idea," he countered, shifting his hold to her elbow (Great-aunt Sophie would be proud), "but don't you think you're rushing a bit? Your boyfriend just gave you a significant crack on the noggin and I'm still not a hundred percent sure he's kosher… maybe…"

She had to take a deep breath as the realization that mistake or not it was Harry that had noticed she was missing and not Javier washed over her. I cannot continue to function on this level. "One, time is a luxury we do not have. Two, the possibility of an antidote does not just pertain to Javier or Jillian, the entire team is still at risk and therefore it is of tantamount importance. Three…" Her voice shook, so she took another breath. "you are correct, I need a moment. Will you be so good as to keep watch and make certain no one disturbs me?"

"I…" another protest died, decimated by what he saw growing in the depths of her eyes. "Right. Fine. I'll watch." It was all he was good for, anyway, right? Watch and wait and somehow still miss it when the shit hit the scrubbers. Turning, he strode back towards the corridors entrance… to watch.

T'Shaini knelt on the floor and folded her hands on her lap. Initiating a complicated sequence of inhales and exhales, she tapped into a ritual she had observed but never put to use for herself. Within moments she felt her body drain of the adverse physical effects attached to the emotional state she had chosen. Then, as if a switch was flipped within her body she sensed channels she had left open will themselves shut. A few more moments to seal the practice and she was…free. Rising to her feet she walked to Harry, face calm and impassive. "I believe the cell is further down this corridor, logic dictates if there were any medications specific to that particular subject it would be in that vicinity." Without waiting for his response she turned and proceeded in the direction she had indicated.

Finn was left in the dust as the counselor, the suddenly, overwhelmingly Vulcan counselor, proceeded with her personal mission. Completely at a loss as to what had just happened, he bowed to necessity and followed. Since they were being all logical and stuff, he'd follow his own logical course of action and investigate the munitions Costala had discovered. With the engineer possessing super-strength, night-sight and a two-way connection with the big bad, Harry was feeling a significant need to equalize.

Originally posted on 4 December 2007 by T'shiani and Harry Finn.

Working efficiently, it had taken little time to locate a medical kit with symbols that led her to believe it would assist in either suppressing or eradicating the virus. Also, in case it would be of use in research, she snapped off a finger from the corpse on the floor and made a portable tissue sample for Jillian. Continuing toward the trapdoor she saw a familiar figure descending the ladder. Javier…well this is the test.

The destruction of the consoles and information on the virus sent Javier to a dark place. What now? God.. He was glad that the others only suffered minor injuries but the loss of information that could lead to a cure left him stunned. For some minutes he could only stare blankly at the shattered consoles wondering what his available options were. How could they do this? Overloaded them on purpose..a conspiracy by the old Sentinel crew. he thought, looking from Munro to Torrik. No, Munro is infected. She needs the cure too. Although the doctor had yet to show any symptoms.

Javier looked around for T'Shaini. Where is she? She should have been right behind me. Then he remembered what they had been talking about prior to the explosion. Finn wasn't in the room either, and the engineer remembered passing him in the corridor. Anger rippled through him and he clenched his teeth and slowly returned to the ladder. He checked the magazine on the assault rifle to cool his head, then slapped it home in the breach before slinging it around to his back and climbing down.

He saw the Vulcan woman approaching. "What happened?" Javier demanded. "You should have been right behind me. Where did you and Finn go?" he inquired harsh at first, but upon noticing that she was injured, his tone softened. "What happened to your face?"

She felt herself testing as he spoke, like prodding a sore tooth with your tongue to see if it would hurt. Thank the gods. "Harry was requisitioning additional firearms from the armory, I have been collecting medical supplies and tissue samples for Jillian, if you would excuse me I would like to see that she receives them as quickly as possible." With that, she brushed past him and made her way up the ladder.

It was nice to see someone else struck dumb by the sudden change in the counselor's behavior. Finn was still having some bad moments at the way in which Wendy… no… T'Shaini, had snapped off that corpse's finger. Less the act than the brutal efficiency with which it had been accomplished.

"You did," he called out to Costala, from the entrance of the very eventful corridor. "You happened to her face, in your daring rush to be super-Javi." Armed now, in a fashion very like the masked man, he wondered just how that knowledge would affect the engineer. Wondered if he'd care that he'd bashed his woman into the wall.

"I did?" Javier said as he watched T'Shaini move past him and registered the stoic tone of her voice. "I just pushed by her," the engineer said, "I barely touched her..she was telling me about.." His mind went back to the conversation he and T'Shaini had shared. Javier turned back to look in the security officer's direction. Finn seemed to have upgraded his weapon supply. "I see you found the armory. A pity you don't have those pistols I gave you..they were a gift from my father afterall."

Avoid the subject much? "A pity your father didn't teach how to treat your woman, while he was handing out hardware." Then, before the other man could reply added, "Hear from Big Brother lately?"

Why did he say 'your' woman? A taunt, something to make me angry. It's working. the engineer thought as he stood silent and unmoving. "My brother? I killed one of my brothers today. Is that who you're referring to?"

<>Kill him.<> the Voice prompted. <>You are his superior. Kill him for his insolence.<>

Javier didn't move. He was going to let Harry make the first move. It was contrary to everything he had learned in the marines. 'You always shoot first and shoot straighter,' his sergeant had said. But Javier had speed and he was young, he knew he could kill the security officer, and yet a part of him held back for another reason.

Welcome to the madhouse, Finn, was all he could think. Faced by the faceless young man, so clearly bristling for a fight, Harry was of two minds as to how to respond. Maybe three. He wondered if this was how Trann felt all the time? He took a slow deep breath and started down the stairs, as threatening as toast. Cold white toast at that. He kept his eyes on the other figure, though and, as he drew near the ladder, stopped. "You know, Costala," he said, all friendly, "you start thinking of those ambulatory corpses as your brothers, it's probably time to take a long, hard look in a mirror. Oh, but you can't, can you.. because you're too busy hiding behind the mask." And with that, he began to ascend the ladder, pretending that his spine wasn't prickling, waiting for the kill shot, with every rung he climbed.

"This mask is what's keeping me alive Finn; why would I want to take it off?" he replied as he watched the man leave. Javier waited a few minutes then followed the officer topside. He was relieved and a little disappointed that Finn hadn't tried anything.

Originally posted on 5 DEcember 2007 by T'Shiani, Javier Costala, harry Finn and Torrik Nils.

.: Ground level. :.

Bianca Fields, having just recovered from her "episode", thanks in no small part to Trann, finally ventured out from the doorway. The early morning light lent an eerie feel to their decrepit surroundings.

"So… " she ventured meekly, before something above her grabbed her attention.

"Hey… Look she asked… What are they…"

When the body began it's quick descent, so too began Bianca's screaming, fleet footed trek back into the relative safety of the building. Anthony gripped Bianca.

"Quit your whining!" yelled Anthony, he looked down, and took a deep breath, "Okay, just, suck in your gut we will get out of this unharmed I swear" said Anthony, pushing past her he kept his rifle lifted and walked slowly towards the corpse which had just dropped out of the sky. Rolling it over, in plain English, the words…

Benjamin & Stryfe. Almost out of bullets. We're coming down… Meet us halfway

Anthony looked up, and spotted them, then he checked his ammo, 2 clips, with about 16 already in the rifle. Anthony took off the cloth around his head, the blood trickled out, but was almost stopped, He then began communicating in flag, weather they would understand would be up to them. Tatiana looked over Anthony's shoulder at the note and gave a slight nod of approval, "Nice…" she muttered at their form of message delivery and stepped over the corpse. They had another two flights to go, and she wasn't eager to wait around and ogle the dead anymore than they were.

Anthony walked steadily up the stairs, slow, and tiresome as it was. "Are we there yet?" Bianca asked impatiently, and Anthony shushed her again. Tatiana glared back at the two of them in annoyance and rolled her eyes before continuing up the stairs. She took the stairs slowly, pausing to look at the visible marks of weapons fire on the walls. She stopped at the bottom of another flight of stairs and looked up. A corpse was laid out at the top and she looked behind her. "We're at the third floor," she told her companions.

Anthony walked steadily upwards, moving past rubble that lay across the steps. "Awfully dusty, looks like something blew up in here," said Anthony, he looked to Tatiana for recognition, then bumped into something… The whole stairway was chocked, no way up, Anthony clawed at the rubble, then realised that it could all come tumbling down on them.

"What now?" Asked Bianca, Anthony stared at the rubble, cursing.

.: In the stairwell, coming down :.

"So… I brought this rope with us. Nathan informed his unlikely traveling companion quietly as the two traversed the dark stairwell. "We might need it." He added, displaying a long, coiled length of black rope.

"For What?" Vince asked incredulously, stopping his hurried packing of Nathan's ratty backpack. "We gonna tie 'em up?"

Nathan rolled his eyes before diving into his reasons. "Dude.. look.. We could need it.. you never know. Here.. I'll carry it so you don't have to carry too much."

"I'm carrying the huge freaking Machine Gun." The pilot replied, indicating the weapon. "All you carried up here was a shotgun!"

The teen captain bristled at the pilot's accusation, facetious thought it was. "Hey! It wasn't my stupid idea to bring all that shit up here." He informed him

"Well, I thought you know.. given the situation.. what with the FREAKING UNDEAD!! chasing us all over the place…. we might-MIGHT- need some weapons.. Excuse me for being proactive."

The teen raised the shotgun as he approached the pile of rubble. Just as he was about to fire off a biting remark reminding "Rambo" about his reckless use of their explosives, and the subsequent effects thereof, said pilot walked into the back of him, forcing the young Captain to stumble into the large pile of debris. As he was pushing himself off the heap, Nathan could barely make out voices on the other side. Seconds later however, a string of obscenities came through loud and clear.

"Hey!" He called out, happy to finally hear the voice of someone other than his current companion. "You know there's kids in here someplace… That's kinda inappropriate." He looked back, just able to make out the quizzical expression on Vince's dirt smeared face.

"It's them." He declared. "Whoever was on the ground."

Vince nodded. "Sorry for throwing a body at you." He called out, cupping a hand over his mouth.

"No problem," Tatiana called back, "you get points for creativity." She stepped back from the rubble, to inspect it. The barrier was planted firmly in front of her, and she searched her mind for ways to remove it, "Any ideas on how to bring this down?"

Nathan appraised the mass of the fallen building materials. In his own meager experience, it wasn't wise to just go blowing up the insides of buildings. It was less wise to go wading through the rubble once you'd done it. "I don't know." He answered. " I think we gotta find another way to get out of here. How did you guys get here.. and uhh.. who are "You Guys.?"

"Isn't the captain meant to be familiar with his Crew, Crewman Trann here, ideas?" Asked Anthony, his fingers running against the rubble.

"Who else is with you… Crewman Trann?" Stryfe asked pointedly, glancing over at Nathan, who'd raised an eyebrow at the comment.

"Thorne and Fields," Tatiana spoke up with a look at Anthony. She had resisted the urge to nudge him in the side, and in turn answered the question, "We came to the building in a car we found by the sewers."

"Great." Nathan spoke up, backing away from the rubble. "I don't think we can move any of this stuff without causing more to fall.. so we have to figure out another way out of here. The best thing I can think of is to use this rope that we brought…" He gave a look at Vince, grinning at the Pilot, who simply rolled his eyes. "… to climb down. What kind of vehicle did you get?"

"You into gas guzzler Mechanic Racing Program on the holodeck?" Asked Trann, "It's a car, looks a lot like a 'jeep'"

"Do you want to meet in the front of the building?" Tatiana asked right after.

"So.. you want to use the rope to climb down off the side of the building?" Vince asked quietly. "Because… I don't think that rope is long enough."

Nathan nodded, frowning thoughtfully. "Yeah.. well… it's what we've got right now… so We'll figure that out when we get to the window." He looked over to the rubble. "Have you guys had any contact with anyone else since beam in?"

"I definitely haven't," Tatiana muttered and leaned against the rubble.

"Me and Javier got split up earlier before me and Tatiana linked up," finished Anthony, as he scanned the rubble.

"Ok." Nathan nodded. "Did you guys get the first com message?"

"Yes, we did. We also had no idea what it meant," she said with an unconscious shrug, "I don't recall a regulation of that number. Do you know what it means?"

"Yeah." The young captain nodded. "It was a code. It sounded like Nils. And he wants us to go to wherever he is." A sudden creaking noise brought Vince and Nathan's weapons up, and had the both of them peering up into the darken stairwell that they'd just traveled. Deciding after a few seconds that it was nothing, or merely the building, they returned to the relaxed state they'd adopted previously and Nathan turned back to the mess before him. "Ok." He began. "We will find a window to get out of. Drive the vehicle around the building til you see us."

"You got it," Anthony said and they turned to go back down to the first level of the stairs. Each of their weapons were grasped firmly in their hands, in the fear that another of the undead would appear again. It was quiet as the group of three descended and Tatiana found herself thanking her lucky stars that Bianca had not opened her mouth once. They'd made quick work of the stairs, exited the bottom door and into the dimly lit hall. She looked out the window to her left and saw the beginnings of morning before throwing her automatic weapon up. "We're have a lot of those things to kill before we can even think of getting in the car, let's make quick work of it," she said and they all trekked towards the entrance.

Anthony kicked open the heavy door and the three spilled out onto the stairs. At once, all their arms fell to the side and confusion was painted over their features. "Where did they go?" Bianca asked and Anthony shrugged next to her. "It doesn't matter where they went," Tatiana said, and reached down to pull the keys out of her boot, "All that matters is that they're gone." They rushed towards the truck and jumped in, reclaiming their previous spots. Tatiana forced the key in the ignition and started the car, driving to the right side of the building. Anthony stood up through the top opening and pointed, "There!" he said and Tatiana stopped the car beneath the descending individuals.

Originally posted on 5 December 2007 by Tatiana Thorne, Nathan benjamin, Anthony Trann and Vince Stryfe.

T’Shaini walked calmly down the passageway to the main room running a personal checklist in her head. Breathing…even, heart rate…normal, depression…nonexistent. Nodding in propitiation she stepped into the open area. Surveying the aftermath of the explosion that Harry had spoken of, it seemed as if all involved had recovered nicely, Nolan asleep, Nils at work as always and…there she was, Jillian, face drawn with worry, looking as if she had lost her way.

“Jillian,” T’Shaini watched the doctor’s head snap up in surprise. Perhaps my tone is different as well. Depositing the crate on the floor in front of the startled woman, T’Shaini knelt down and opened it. “I discovered this downstairs, it was in an area where one of the creatures had been quarantined. The section was reminiscent of an experimental wing, I surmise the body that was found was a test subject of some kind. Observation of the symbols found on the containers and the work table lead me to the conclusion that this may be some sort of inhibitor for the virus. Can you analyze the serum?” She then held out her hand and deposited a shriveled grey appendage in the hand of the unsuspecting Munro. “I took this from the corpse in the event that you would find you needed a tissue sample.”

Standing, she brushed the shards of whatever was left on the floor from her pants and looked down at Jillian. “Should the resultant data indicate the need for a test subject, I would suggest that it first be administered to Javier.” T’Shaini’s eyes remained emotionless, her face impassive. “I believe his condition is so far progressed that if no means to slow it appears, he will succumb to the virus in short order.” She began to walk away, then stopped and turned back to still silent doctor. “If there is any assistance I can render you, you will of course inform me.”

Originally posted on 5 December 2007 by T'Shaini.

:: Halcyon ::
:: “The Batcave” ::

Nils paced back and forth between the gathering crowd. The aftermath of the explosion had him reeling with confusion and denial. Thankfully no one had been terribly hurt. At least not that he was aware of; T’Shaini had emerged from the corridor looking none too well.

The Bajoran’s path brought him past L’Mek still working on the translation of the medical files. The cold blooded Romulan hadn’t so much as batted an eye at the explosion, clearly anxious about getting back to he and Jillian’s project. That man’s more emotionally removed than I am, Nils thought passing him by.

“It can’t mean that…” Nils said again. He’d been processing the intercepted communication over and over in his head to the exclusion of everything else going on. Finally the implications were too much to keep to himself.

“Listen,” he called to the assembling group. There was some chatter continuing. “Listen,” he repeated much louder. With all eyes on him, Nils suddenly felt terribly unnerved. He swallowed hard and continued. “Based on what we just heard, I think that…that…intelligence is putting together some kind of invasion fleet. I think that’s what the zombies went off to build.” He was met by a few blank stares. Perhaps they were just horrified; he didn’t have time to analyze.

“I hope I’m wrong,” he added somberly. “But the data points in that direction. I think that the zombies are intent on spreading the virus to other worlds.” Put so plainly the concept sounded absurd, but the science officer knew what he’d heard. “And what’s more disturbing is…I think the invasion will be a direct result of our “first contact” with Halcyon.”

Originallu posted on 4 December 2007 by Torrik Nils.**

In the Mouth of Madness

In many ways, it was like dreaming but these were lucid dreams. Here, in the grid, he was God and the petty mewling creatures, which had once scattered in bloody conflict across the landscape like so much windblown trash, now were ordered, focused, given the gift of his will to guide their nights and days and best, oh best of all, with the coming of chaos there arrived a gift.

Two gifts.

One, as yet unknown, bore the means to take his vision to the distant stars. With this Benjamin, he would end the madness and the heartache that existed everywhere and replace it with peace… with order… with a simplicity so complex only one mind could ever compass it.

His mind. His world. His.

Benjamin would show him the way. His lesser children would find him, and thus be made greater.

But never so great as his new first-born. The greatest gift any father could know… an obedient son.

“Abselem…” he reached out into the ether that was his home, calling his newborn, his silent voice a silken caress of the mind.




Harry doesn't live here, anymore.

Originally posted on 5 December 2007 by Harry Finn.**

“And what’s more disturbing is…I think the invasion will be a direct result of our “first contact” with Halcyon.”

Harry entered the cavern and halted, parallel to Chief Jackson, just in time for Torrik’s dire pronouncement.

“Well, ain’t that about as welcome as a plate of mealy grubs for breakfast,” was the non-comm’s opinion of the news.

Having nothing which could top that description, Finn gave up and crossed to the science officer. “Do you know where this fleet is being assembled?” he asked, “Because I happen to know where I can lay my hands on a lovely assemblage of munitions… possibly enough to level half this scenic vacation spot. All I need is a place to put them.”

Originally posted on 5 December 2007 by Harry Finn.

"I hate this idea." Vince declared, peering down to where Thorne, Trann, and Bianca Fields had parked their four wheeled contraption, awaiting their descent. "Tell me again why I'm going first?"

"Because you picked rock." Nathan informed him. "Remember? And paper beats rock… So grab your crap and climb down there."

"Aye Aye." the pilot sighed. "But if I die… "

"Yeah yeah… Hurry up." Nathan replied impatiently, almost pushing him out the window. "I'll figure out something eloquent to say at your memorial."

Vince grabbed the rope, taking one final look at his destination. "Ok… Here I go." he muttered, wrapping the rope around his left foot and taking told of it with both hands. "See ya on the flip side Cappy."

And with that, the pilot quickly descended the twenty some feet to the bottom of the rope. Still a solid six feet above the top of the car however, he had no alternative but to drop the rest of the way into the automobile.

"Hey.. Move out of the way!" He called down. "I have to drop."

Tatiana's foot pressed lightly down on the pedal and she turned the wheel to hug the wall of the building even tighter. She moved up slighty before pulling up the stick on the side to stop the truck. She got out the truck and walked to the front to watch the fall, she wanted to be sure that it didn't do any physical damage to the men.

"Ok.. here I come." Nathan heard Vince say from his perch in the fourth floor window. Soon after, the pilot let go of the rope, falling into the back of the truck with a thud that was audible, even from where the teen sat. Several tense moments later Vince began stirring and came to a sitting position.

"Hey guys… sorry to just drop in like this." He grinned. "Any chance we could just drive off… Cappy said he want's to stick around here."

"Really?" Tatiana asked as she walked to the back of the truck, "I don't think we can leave him behind, we might need him for bait." She looked up at the building and back and Vince, "How was your fall? Do you feel pain anywhere?"

"Nope." Vince shrugged. "Would you kiss it an make it better if I did?" He smiled as the doctor bristled at his comment. "Just kiddin doc.

"Hey!" Nathan yelled from the top of the rope. "I'm coming down." The teen grabbed the rope, first making sure that he's secured the shotgun in his backpack straps. He'd been rappelling a few times before, so it wasn't like he was scared to do it, but there was still a twinge of fear working it's way up his spine. Would the rope hold? Would some god awful undead monstrosity come out from the room behind him and send him hurtling to the ground? Pushing these thoughts aside, Nathan wrapped the rope around his left leg and began his descent, stopping roughly six feet above the parked vehicle. Everyone was out of the way, so the teen casually let go of the rope, dropping the short distance into the vehicle. As soon as he felt the cool metal beneath him, a sharp sense of relief washed over him. Exhaling audibly he looked up at his assembled crew.

"Hey guys." He offered. "Great Idea to come on down here huh?"

Anthony nodded and Tatiana gave the captain the same once over she had given Stryfe. She raised an eyebrow. "Nice…outfits," she said with a smirk as she took in their rough appearance. "Did you hurt anything in your fall?" she asked.

"No." Nathan shook his head, following the doc's eyes. "And I don't think any of this blood… and whatever else it is, is mine either." He said, attempting to run a hand through his zombie blood matted hair. He raised himself up to a sitting position. "Did any of you get hurt too badly.. or bitten?"

"No," Anthony answered from his standing postion through the roof of the car, "Just a little banged up from a fall." Tatiana turned around to shoot him a look, "We need a medkit, Trann took an injury to his head. I'm not sure the extent of the damage but that's the only serious injury we have," she answered.

"Ok.. Well, We need to try and find the other teams… Do any of you have any tricorders?" Nathan asked.

"I have it!" Bianca exclaimed from the passenger side and pulled out the tricorder that Anthony had dropped earlier. Tatiana reached into the window, took the offered tricorder and handed it to the captain.

The teen reached out and grabbed the device, holding it up above his head so that he could see the small screen without getting the glare off the sun. It was then that he noticed what looked like an obese missile floating high above them. It was some sort of airship. "Hey.. Look." He pointed up at it.

They all looked up at the sky, "Where'd it come from?"

"Dunno… Vince mused. "But I bet there ain't no rotten brained corpse flying it.. Do our communicators still work?" He patted his chest, searching for his own, not finding it. "Oh yeah… You got it." He remembered, looking at his CO, who was still staring up at the airship. "Well.. See if anyone up there answers."

His gaze still skyward, Nathan tapped the delta, looking quite out of place on his otherwise dirty, ripped, bloodied undershirt.

=/\= Benjamin to Airship. =/\= He said plainly, eagerly awaiting an answer. It was several static filled seconds before he was rewarded with the sound of his little blue XO's voice.

Pev smiled at the controls and reached over to tap his own communicator.

=/\= This is the airship Killdeer, Lt. Commander Pev responding. How are things groundside, Captain? =/\=

Relieved smiles broke out on the group's faces upon hearing the Stiatch Exec's voice over the com link. =/\= Ugly. He replied with a laugh. Can you bring that thing down here? =/\=

There was a moment of silence, then the XO replied =/\= Probably. =/\= Keeping the channel open, Pev began pulling at levers and turning the great wheel in an effort to bring the ship around, gradually losing altitude.

"It's coming down." Trann noted. "I guess this means we don't have to drive this piece of junk."

Trann's words fell on apatehtic ears to most of his comrades. Most of them weren't auto enthusaists. Vince however, glared at the upstart cyborg in disbelief; as though he'd just insulted him. "This thing is a good vehicle. It's like an all purpose type.. like a jeep.. which were great vehicles."

"Well….." The remainder of whatever Trann said were lost on him. So to was Vince's biting reply, and Thorne's ending of their little spat before it got too heated.

=/\= Hey Pev.. Can you raise the Hawking? =/\= Nathan queried, sliding out of the jeep and walking a few meters away from the rest of the group.

=/\= I'm not certain, Captain. Flying an airship is not really a job for one person. I'll attempt it, though, once I've completed my arial maneuvers. =/\= The S'ti'ach sounded both focused and amused.

The blimp wobbled to and fro precariously, losing altitude as it made it's descent. When it reached some twelve feet above ground it levelled off and began hovering. As the groundside crewmen approached, a hatch opened in the undercarriage and a boarding ramp flopped uselessly out, hanging from a hinge some eight feet above the street, and had anyone else been aboard, they would have seen Pev darting frantically from the hatchway back to the bridge. A moment later:

=/\= Stand by, sir. Bringing the Killdeer down. =/\=

It wasn't graceful. In fact, the zeppelin lurched downward rapidly, then stopped again and began listing away from the groundside team, before the boarding ramp finally scraped the ground. As Nathan grabbed hold of the thing and began trying to pull it into position, the blimp began to rise again. Finally, a hovering position was attained, and the boarding ramp settled to a managable level.

=/\=Standing by to receive passengers,=/\= said Pev cheerfully. =/\= And perhaps a pilot. =/\=

As the young CO stepped onto the ramp, stopping to allow his ragged crewmates to venture into the cabin ahead of him, he heard a shrill scream from close by. Squinting to account for the early morning glare of Halcyon's sun, the teen could barely make out the form of someone running toward them. Though she was no more than fifty meters away, he still could not make her out.

"Hey!" He yelled. "Who… " It was Camenze Taray. Stopping mid sentence, the teen recognized the twin blades that the Science officer preferred over the more common energy weapons employed by the vast majority of her peers. Grinning happily as he extended his hand, another weight was lifted from Nathan's shoulders. Now his entire team was accounted for.

"Welcome back!" he offered, helping her onto the ramp. "I bet you have some stories to tell."

"I do." the sword slinging scientist affirmed. "I'm sure you do to sir."

"Yeah." He nodded. "Let's go up into the cockpit and talk to Pev… Maybe he's got some clue as to what's going on on this planet."

"J'Kell sir." Camenze agreed, stowing her blades. "Does this thing have a shower you think?"

Originally posted on 5 December 2007 by Pev, Nathan benjamin, Tatiana Throne, Anthony Trann, and Vince Stryfe.

“If there is any assistance I can render you, you will of course inform me.”

Jillian continued to stare at T'Shaini. The straight faced Vulcan raised an eyebrow. "Doctor?"

Shaking off the need to process what T'Shaini had just said, she replied "Yes…yes…of course. I will let you know if I need you." T'Shaini gave a quick nod, before continuing to walk away.

Jillian took a deep breath and let her eyes fall on the container in front of her, "Now what do we have here?", she mumbled to herself. The crate was filled with more files, 1 black box, 1 white box, and something that looked like a PADD. She wiped the dust off the screen and searched the device for anything that looked like an ON button. What's the worst that could happen? It explodes? , she chuckled to herself. After the rather large explosion in the bunker, a tiny PADD wasn't going to scare her. She tried several buttons until a screen flashed a series of molecular structures; a few of them were the same she was looking at before, but more importantly, this explanation had grouped them into, what appeared to be, Cause & Effect.

"This is…C11H17N3O8… I knew it! Now we're getting somewhere!", she said under her breath.

Across the room T'Shaini watched the light of discovery illuminate Jillian's face. Curiosity piqued, interesting, that has not changed, she put down the crate she was unpacking to observe.

Jillian jumped up from her seat and called down the hall, "T'SHAINI!! COME BACK!" The sudden jump caught Jillian off guard, as she realized how dizzy she had come. She reached down and steadied herself against the back of the chair, "T'SHAINI!"

T'Shaini crossed quickly to the doctor and put her hand out to steady her. "Yes?"

It's called, "Tetrodotoxin", she said excitedly

T'Shaini took the PADD from Jillian to read it herself, seeking more clarity. "Anhydrotetrodotoxin 4-epitetrodotoxin, tetrodonic acid, TTX - and?"

Jillian wiped the sweat off her brow, the chill of a fever ran through her body, "I don't understand their language, but they left us clues", she pointed to the molecular pictures on the PADD.

Looking up from the PADD, T'Shaini asked. "So, what happens when these four substances combine? A cure?"

Jillian stumbled into her chair, "No…What you get it a one nasty-ass virus that a humanoid body cannot sustain."

"Care to be more specific?"

"It's a potent neurotoxin which blocks action potentials in nerves by binding to the pore of the voltage-gated, fast sodium channels in the nerve cell membrane."

"Jillian, as much as may I wish to, I have no idea what a Sodium Channel does."

"They are integral membrane proteins that form ion channels, conducting sodium ions through a cell's plasma membrane."

Something to grasp at. "Ahh, I understand, they are responsible for making neurons and myocytes work."


Crease in her forehead deepening as T'Shaini tried to keep up with the doctor. "Which would then mean that anything that blocks sodium channels by binding to and occluding the extracellular pore opening of the channel, is not acceptable?"

"Like I said, T'Shaini, the humanoid body cannot sustain the effects." Jillian paused to catch her breath, "Believe me, Tetrodotoxin has it's benefits…My guess would be these people had intended to use it as some sort of enhancer. Theoretically the effects should be positive….just not in this case."

Jillian shook her head sadly, "I'm guessing their plans wen't very very badly." She took the PADD back from T'Shaini, "Here lies our bigger problem: the contractions of the heart are controlled by chemical impulses, which fire at a rate which controls the beat of the heart. The cells that create these rhythmical impulses are called pacemaker cells, and they directly control the heart rate. The key to the rhythmical firing of pacemaker cells is that, unlike muscle and neurons, these cells will slowly depolarize by themselves. As in all other cells, the resting potential of a pacemaker cell is caused by a continuous outflow of potassium ions through ion channel proteins in the membrane that surrounds the cells. The difference is that this potassium permeability decreases as time goes on, partly causing the slow depolarization. That being said, there is a slow inward flow of our precious sodium that we Starfleet doctors like to call "The funny current", as well as an inward flow of calcium."

As she started to lose the thread of the explanation, T'Shaini's voice lifted slightly in confusion. "What does this have to do with Tetrodotoxin?"

"Well, essentially Tetrodotoxin blocks the "funny current" in humanoid myocytes, thereby inhibiting their contraction. And as I just explained, the sodium channels in pacemaker cells of the heart are of the slow variety, so action potentials in the cardiac nodes are not inhibited by the compound."

"Ah yes…so the individual therefore dies not because the electrical activity of the heart is compromised, but because the muscles are effectively partially paralyzed."

"You got it. Which is why are friends down below can't walk worth squat. But that's not all…"

"Of course not"

"Once the toxin is in the body it mutates. It slowly takes over, killing the body. It then uses the body as a host, basically a shell. The only way to stop this mutated toxin is to let the toxin run it's course…leaving the body to rot. No body. No host. No Viral Toxin."

"What is the treatment?"

"That's tricky. The toxin I could take care of…but I have no idea how to stop the mutated strain."

One thing at a time. "How would you treat the toxin, then?"

Jillian sighed, "I don't know."

Originally posted on 6 December 2007 by Jillian Munro.

Continued from Harry's last post -

Having nothing which could top that description, Finn gave up and crossed to the science officer. “Do you know where this fleet is being assembled?” he asked, “Because I happen to know where I can lay my hands on a lovely assemblage of munitions… possibly enough to level half this scenic vacation spot. All I need is a place to put them.”

"Four kilometers that way," Nils said, pointing generally southeast. "Approximately." Being that approximations were an annoyance, Nils moved quickly to the still smoking rubble that was once the communications console. There was a chance the tricorders weathered the blast well enough to function. "What kind of munitions do you have," he asked as he rummaged through the debris.

Harry flipped through his internal database on antique weapons. "In addition to a room filled with small arms, there's a heavy ordnance locker. Lots of low explosives: more of the plastique, like what I found up here, along with what looks to be over a dozen containers of pressure-triggered mines. Might be a way to rig those for a remote detonation… link them with the plastique via shock tube threaded to low power blasting caps. I also noted some rocket launchers, grenades and accompanying RPGs and, the best present ever, the disassembled parts of what I believe to be a high explosive… judging from the payload, it could have at least a three to four thousand meter blast range…" Finn re-focused on the present and realized that he'd lost the scientist somewhere around 'blasting caps'. "There's enough firepower to take out the shipyard plus some goodies leftover for their boss," he concluded.

At some point in during the inventory recitation, Nils had ceased his rummaging and began staring at the security officer who was lost in the glory of a weapon's cache. Finn was an enigma in many ways, but there were some things about the man that were as simple as Spring Wine. "I think I would have been satisfied with 'a lot'," Nils said as he located one of the tricorders. He flipped it open and examined it closely. "Ah," he began as a childish grin painted his features. "It still works." In some ways Nils was as simple as Spring Wine too.

"Alright," the Bajoran continued as his tricorder reinitialized and began drinking in data. "Four point six nine kilometers south south east. Although, I'm not sure any amount of ballistics will get us through that meat shield of zombies surrounding the construction site. The number of zombies has increased by fifteen percent since the last time I scanned the area."

If Khev had returned, he might've been able to make a hole with one of the RPG's but Khev hadn't returned. If they'd lost the Rocketeer it was another notch in the belt of bad choices: Finn had sent him skywards to recon a dead city and now the young Romulan was missing which, aside from the loss of a team member, also meant no air support. Finn chewed over that thought, realized it had been forever since he'd chewed on anything besides and remembered the other thing Costala had found in the basement. "Food," he muttered, startling the now-absorbed Bajoran. "There's a pantry down there, too," he explained. Let's you and me go take a look at the arms and then see if maybe getting everyone some food and water'll wake our brains up enough to surmount an impossible obstacle against overwhelming odds" he exhaled somewhat wearily "…again."

"Good idea," Nils answered immeditiately falling into step. "Although I'm hesitant to eat anything on this Prophet forsaken planet."

Three steps into the passage the sharp, grating sound of metal against metal had Finn snapping his eyes left to where Costala had apparently been lurking. Blacker than the darkness around, the engineer had cleared the breach on his weapon. "Nice," Harry commented as Nils paused, uncertainly, "had me shaking. Really."

The shadow remained silent and Finn continued on his way, fighting the itch to do unto the suit what he was sure the suit was just as itchy to do unto him.

Nils acknowledged the full suited figure they passed with a curt nod. Truth be told, Costala was giving him the creeps. Ignoring the feeling, Nils continued following Finn back through the loading bay and into the storefront area of the "base." A ladder emerged at an awkward angle from the ground, indicating a trap door of some kind. Evidently Nils had missed it during his first inspection of the place. Before descending, the science officer waved his tricorder around above the hole. No need to go in uninformed, no matter how many of the crew had already been down there.

"This tunnel extends for kilometers," he said reporting his readings. "How far did you explore?"

Tunnel? Ah, the barricaded doorway. "We didn't," Finn admitted, sliding down and enjoying the wetting of his boots yet again. "There are two open corridors, man made, which don't extend more than a few dozen meters, with several rooms to each side." He waited for Torrik to join him, then pointed at the blocked doorway at the top of the stairs… "I figure there was an incursion from that direction but, what with all the explosions and looking for cures and… stuff… we haven't had a chance to open 'er up." Wasn't entirely certain it was wise, either.

"Understood," Nils said still waving his tricorder around. Finn's assessment of the environment was impressive if not a little disturbing. As observant as Nils was, he rarely synthesized information so forensically. Nothing else of considerable interest jumped out on the science officer's scans so he closed the device and holstered it. He wielded the tricorder like a weapon. "Let's see what we can find!"

"Let's start with weapons," Harry addressed tactical necessities first, a bit disconcerted at being the presence of such enthusiastic curiosity - particularly after all that quality time with the masked menace. He waded towards the hall which contained the large arms locker. "As long as you've got the tricorder running, you can give me the lowdown on the various explosives, maybe help rig up a quick and easy detonation system."

Costala is a demolitions expert, Finn's memory pointed out but Finn ignored his memory as he led the way past the tell-tale green stain on the wall and into the munitions room, where he waited for the next burst of scientific efficiency.

Nils gladly closed the gap between he and the main group of explosives. The storage area was far from organized. Evidently the last inhabitants were more concerned with other things - like staying alive. As the tricorder leapt from his hip to his hand, the Bajoran indulged himself in some chemical analysis.

"Potassium chlorate and red phosphorus," he said as his scans passed over one section of containers. "Potassium nitrate, charcoal, and sulfer," he intoned stoically over another group. "Perchlorates and cycloalkanes," he said finally as he scanned the last batch. "I'd advise steering clear of the first group. That's pretty sensitive combination. But these two," he said gesturing to the two largest caches, "ought to be transportable and volatile enough for quite a show of fireworks."

The science officer glanced about the supplies considering possible detonation options. "I really don't know much about explosives, other than the basic chemical laws which cause them to occur. So…" he glanced around helplessly. "This appears to be a fuse. I could rig the tricorder to emit a signal to initiate a charge. But we'd need a device to receive the signal…maybe a combadge. And it would need to be altered to "spark" when it receives the signal. I'm not sure I know how to do that."

With these antiques, Harry wasn't a hundred percent he did, either. More like 65%… which meant he'd have to go to Costala. Another degree up in the level of suck. "Right," he sighed. "I'll just… go back and ask Batman for his input." And on that cheery note he adjusted the weapon over his shoulder and headed back to the ladder. "Up the ladder, down the ladder, up the ladder, down the ladder… if this place weren't a deathtrap it'd be all the rage for physical fitness freaks…"

Originally posted on 6 December 2007 by Harry Finn and Torrik Nils.

Alone in the room, Nils continued to scan. His excuse was to further the inventory list of what was available to them, but the truth of the matter was having a tricorder in hand once again was therapeutic. Though the world around him was insane, and his exgirlfriend was being transformed into the undead, and the roommate he didn't like was already most of the way there, and the crew he barely knew was stranded on a dead world….and and and…the list went on eternally… The data was still constant. The science was still a place of refuge.

A sudden blip of errant energy caught his eye. Turning to a tall cabinet in the corner, the Bajoran increased scan resolution to determine the source of his new mini-mystery. There was no lock on the cabinet, so without delay Nils opened it. He was not expecting the sight that greeted him.

A near replica of the suit Javier Costala wore hung meticulously on a rack. There were no discernable differences that Nils could detect, but the suit he'd just discovered seemed only lightly used. The data the tricorder returned was fascinating. Clearly this piece of fashionable battle apparel was the pinnacle of Halcyon technology. Its power source was tiny by comparison to what he'd observed elsewhere. The suit contained a molecular bonded shell, which made it virtually impenetrable by the standards of Halcyon development. There were data receptors unlike any Nils had encountered. Clearly they were designed for integration with the neurogenic field enveloping the planet. There were no tell-tale signs of anything similar to ancient Federation technology, but the network of nodes seemed to work on a system of biological and neurochemical input.

Nils picked up the helmet and turned it around in his hands. The eyepieces had a method of displaying data much like a HUD or something similar. And that bit of information was enough to encourage the Bajoran to do something terribly out of character. Throwing caution to the wind he donned the helmet and looked out the goggles.


Alien symbols gave the impression that the helmet was inactive. Evidently the suit had to be worn as a complete set in order to function. Nils examined the suit closely. A device at the rear of the neck was fitted with a syringe, clearly meant to penetrate the wearer’s neck.

"I don't think so," Nils muttered to no one but himself. With a sudden twist of the wrist he snapped the syringe out of place. The anticipation and curiosity of how the suit would interpret neurogenic data spurred him on. And he quickly donned the second battle suit.

As soon as the helmet made the connection with the rest of the suit and the seal was complete, a jolt of violent electricity shocked Nils to the core. He cried out in pain. But as soon as it started, the shock subsided. A rush of data that Nils couldn't interpret rushed across his sight. Then it slowed down to a blur. The language was impossible to translate without a UT, but much of what he was seeing was expressed in chemical equations and physics formulas. It was the language of nerds, of which Nils was fluent. Dimensions of objects in the room played across his eyes as he turned his head. Height, distance, mass, weight and any other numeric expression of the object one could think of played out before in his helmet. The information scrolled quickly, and for once Nils was glad for his LLI disorder. His inability to inhibit extra sensory input was a boon to understanding what he was seeing.

The battlesuit helmet hid Nils' wicked grin. "I am a walking tricorder…" his muffled voice said. "Jillian's got to see this…" He bounded forward with a surprising speed. Some mechanism in the suit enhanced his speed. The slightest exertion by his muscles was expanded and increased by the suit. Nils fell face first into a puddle on the floor, unused to the new dynamic of movement. After a moment of brief irritation, he got up and continued to the ladder. Everything felt simpler. The least amount of exertion produced exaggerated results.

Moments later he emerged into the main cavern. A room full of shocked expressions greeted him.

"I found this downstairs," he said casually. But the helmet made it sound more like "M mmmf mmf mmfmmmf."

Originally posted on 6 December 2007 by Torrik Nils

"But given these tools we should be able to find out, correct?" Without waiting for an answer T'Shaini reached down and withdrew the last component of the crate. Lifting the lid revealed three rows of vials, surrounded by dense packing material. Reaching out, she presented the box to Jillian. "Perhaps if there were a means of analyzing this we would find that it is some sort of cure. Given the elements comprising the kit I find it a logical assumption."

Jillian took out one of the vials to inspect the writing on it, useless writing, she thought to herself, "Yes. Absolutely. I'll need my hypospray and medical tricorder." She looked around the remains of the room, Where the hell is my equipment? .

Nolan tapped her on the elbow, "I was using it as a pillow."

She smiled, "Thanks for keeping it safe." She loaded the vial into her hypospray and infected it into the medical tricorder. Almost instantly, an array of readouts appeared, "Finally! A language I can understand!".

T'Shaini leaned forward to see if she could comprehend any of the information. "Is it offering anything of use?"

"…it is…" she said slowly, "I mean, there is so much to read…but…" She cringed, "…I think it unblocks the funny current. But like I said, after awhile the toxin mutates. I'm not sure at what stage this serum will work."

T'Shaini face remained remote, a distant satellite observing from on high. "I will restate, I believe that Javier's condition is so far advanced that if some action is not taken he will quickly succumb to the virus. I suggest we find him and administer a dose and you can monitor the serum's effects."

Jillian's face turned white, "But I could be wrong? I need more time to study it."

"We do not have time, either we make the attempt or he will be worse than dead."

She sighed, "Ok…alright…if he'll let me, I'll give him the serum."

T'Shaini, seeing that Javier was no where in the main room, looked back and nodded at Jillian before heading to the corridor leading to the office to search for him. As she approached the entrance she could see that he was loitering on the edge of the brightly lit room. Apropos. "We have found what we surmise to be something that will inhibit the growth of the virus. I have suggested to Jillian that we administer the first dose to you. I must warn you that she is not completely confident that it will do what we hope, but I see no other solutions."

The combat suited figure stared at her silently. Test subject. I suppose in some ways that's better than creature. The gash on T'Shaini's forehead looked nasty and Finn's words come back abruptly. "I'm sorry about pushing you," he spoke, breaking the oppressive silence of the corridor. "I didn't mean to push you at all..I was just slipping by.." He stopped when he realized how emotionless T'Shaini's face was. Right. She's shut me out now. The door is only open for Finn now.

"Alright, let's see what it does.." Javier said as he unfastened the helmet.

Her fingers reached up to brush the wound at which he had been staring. "I had put it from my mind." Echoes of how she would have reacted previously made her attempt to soften her flat tone. "I know you did not intend to hurt me." Having no other reassurance to give, T'Shaini turned and walked back to Jillian, certain Javier would be behind her. The engineer followed the Vulcan officer into the room where Dr. Munro was prepping a hypo. He pulled the helmet off, unsealed the front of the combat suit and stood near by.

The ruination of Javier's features that she witnessed as the helmet came off made it all the more apparent to T'Shaini that if the serum did not work…I made a promise, and I will have to honor that.

"Are you sure about this?" Dr. Munro asked him. Javier nodded and said, "Hit me with it Doc."

The physician pressed the hypo against his neck and the engineer heard the whisper of a hiss that accompanied the medication being diffused into his bloodstream. Javier stood and waited. "How long is it supposed to take to see some results?" he asked. He looked down at the floor then back at Dr. Munro. Then felt pain shoot through his chest. "AAARGH!" the engineer called out as the pain increased. Javier felt like someone was scrambling his insides. He was hit by another spasm of pain and crumpled to the floor. He began to jerk as pain tore through his chest. It ripped at him with talons of fire, causing the engineer to scream as he writhed on the floor.

<>They're trying to kill you. I told you they would.<> the Voice told him.

"Father! Help me!" Javier cried in agony. "I'm sorry..I'm me." The engineer said over and over in supplication to the devil in his head.

Oh gods. As he collapsed to the floor, T'Shaini dropped down beside him. "Jillian, is there something you can do?" Wrapping her arms around him to control the bucking of his body so he would not injure himself, she could feel the so recently closed pathways of her emotions straining to burst free. Willing her calm to envelope him, and praying this was his body reacting in shock to the eradication of the virus, she pulled him closer in. "Javier…your father is not present, we will help you. We are trying to help you." She repeated the phrase in response to his tortured pleas in the hopes that it would give him something to hold on to.

"No, he is angry. I killed my brother. I killed him. I didn't listen..I Ahhhhggrr," Javier babbled before his words were lost in a choking cry of agony. His hands gripped T'Shaini's arms. "I'm sorry father..I'm sorry," the engineer whined pitifully. He looked up in time to see a reflection of himself walk into the room. The suit looked different somehow. It was more streamlined and power seemed to emanate from it. In Javier's eyes it could only be one person.

"Father…" the engineer said before slipping into unconciousness.

Originally posted on 6 December 2007 by Torrik Nils, T'shaini, and Javier Costala.

Still internally grumbling about the climb, which was really just a way to not be grumbling about dealing with Costala, a sudden, agonized, shout pulled Harry from his sour ruminations. Pulling the gun to a ready position at his shoulder he slid quickly towards the cave, where the cry had originated.

“…I killed my brother. I killed him. I didn't listen..I Ahhhhggrr,"

It was Costala… even before he cleared the entrance, Finn knew that voice, remembered the reference to his brother from earlier.

“I killed one of my brothers, today.”

He almost felt the click of a puzzle piece slipping into place.

“What…” he whispered, entering a scene reminiscent of some ancient hospital… the kind most people didn’t survive. He looked at T’Shaini, holding the frantically seizing young man down, wondered how she could be so… so impassive when earlier his well-being had been pretty much her only care.

"I'm sorry father..I'm sorry."

Harry moved closer. If the kid was really going… well, someone should at least…

A stirring of the air behind Finn had him spinning back, raising the rifle once more as another suit stepped into the cavern. It mumbled at him, he thought but nothing he could understand.


Harry heard the plaintive call from behind but he didn't look. If the dying man was correct, and this was his ‘father’… well, it’d be a real short family reunion.

Originally posted on 7 Dec 2007 by Hatty Finn.

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